Protecting health system is everybody’s responsibility – Dr. Ramesh Pathirana | Sunday Observer

Protecting health system is everybody’s responsibility – Dr. Ramesh Pathirana

10 September, 2023

Minister of Plantation Industries Dr. Ramesh Pathirana said that it is the duty of all responsible people in the country, including the Opposition, to protect the free health care system created through free education.

Dr. Pathirana told Parliament on Friday that drug allergies were not only reported today but also several years ago, and the current drug allergies should not be used to achieve the political goals of the Opposition.

Deaths due to drug allergies had occurred even from 2015-2023 - 12 deaths in 2015, eight deaths in 2016, 12 deaths in 2017, 12 deaths in 2018, 19 deaths in 2019, 13 deaths in 2020 and 13 deaths in 2021. He said that such kinds of deaths are reported not only in this country but in other countries too.

The Minister said, “The issue proposed in this motion is a sensitive issue. Five people died this year due to drug allergies. This is only a number for us, but it is a serious problem for those families. We regret it. But, we need to understand whether bringing a No-confidence motion against the Minister on the basis of such a matter is related to health or politics.”

“These issues have been created regarding five major medicines. We should pay attention to this. We are trying to create an opinion in the country that these drugs were bought sans the tender process. The first drug is Prednisolone, a registered drug. There are reports that five people had died due to drug allergies. Except for one drug, all the other four are registered drugs. It is a sensitive matter,” he said.

Minister Pathirana said, “It is a problem whether presenting a No-confidence Motion against the Minister of Health is a way to resolve health problems or is it an opportunistic matter to achieve political goals. The Opposition is trying to spread the idea that medicines have been brought to Sri Lanka outside the tender procedure. Why did the Health Minister make emergency purchases? A crisis arose in the health system with the Covid-19 pandemic. With this crises in 2020/2021, the health sector turned in one direction. We had to pay attention to the country’s Covid-19 pandemic. The country had to be shut down continuously. There was a financial crisis. With that situation, many medicine suppliers left and the Health Minister had to make emergency purchases.

“If this was not done, the Health Minister would have been accused of not having the relevant medicines. In this situation, the country received unregistered drugs as a grant. Thus, the country received 360 medicines as grants. It is very important that such deaths are not reported due to the medicines received as grants, the Minister said.

Dr. Pathirana said attention should also be paid to the deaths caused by drugs in the past. Throughout history, deaths had occurred in Sri Lanka and in the world due to this type of allergy. I mentioned the deaths that occurred in Sri Lanka in the past seven years. Throughout history, there have been many incidents reported due to the drop in quality due to reasons such as storage, transportation and storage.

In 2016, 18 drugs were withdrawn. Moreover, 60 drugs in 2017, 53 in 2019, 40 in 2020, 44 in 2022 and 33 drugs in 2023 had also been withdrawn. This information is very accurate. Deaths like these had been recorded in history. Drug withdrawals have also been phased out, drug by drug. This is not a new situation. It has happened throughout history. There have been many events in world history that have changed the health system. One such case was the discovery of the drug penicillin.

Deaths due to drug allergies have been reported throughout history. Over the past six to seven years, over 30 medicines had to be discontinued. The National Medicines Regulatory Authority should be updated. Amid various criticisms, there are many obstacles on this journey. From a simple Paracetamol tablet to a major brain surgery, treatment services are expanding in this country. Health care has gradually improved every year. We have controlled 100 percent of vaccine-preventable diseases, he added.