Buddhists, Catholics in Sri Lanka grateful for cheap drugs
Government move makes healthcare affordable to all
Catholic priests, a Buddhist monk and the faithful gathered at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Colombo on Feb. 16 to express gratitude to the government for slashing the price of medicine. (ucanews.com photo)
Catholic and Buddhist clergy and laity met in a church to express gratitude to the Sri Lankan government for slashing the prices of life-saving drugs.
The Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine and Minister Rajitha Senaratne reduced the price of 47 essential drugs including those used by heart and diabetic patients under the first phase of the National Medicinal Drugs Policy, prohibiting retailers from selling drugs beyond a set limit.
Oblate Father Oswald Firth, Chairman of the People's Association for Peace and Development said that drastically slicing the prices of some generic drugs would be helpful for sick people and the entire nation.
"Health care is a right for everybody. This service is not the privilege of the few who can afford it," he said at a gathering of Catholic and Buddhists clergy and laity at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Colombo on Feb. 16.
"The program needs to be rolled out not only in Colombo but also in remote areas where people depend so much on state health services," he said.
"We are here to invoke blessings and express our gratitude to the minister and his officials at the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine," the priest added.
Program coordinator, S.P. Anthonymuthu said he appreciated the government's move.
"The government now provides free access to stents implantation in the case of cardiac surgery," Anthonymuthu told ucanews.com.
Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Rajitha Senaratne addressing a church service in Colombo on Feb. 16. (ucanews.com photo)
Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Rajitha Senaratne appreciated the event.
Senaratne said that they introduced the Professor Senaka Bibile's National Drug Policy and, as part of that, "the government will reduce the expensive prices."
Bibile was the founder of Sri Lanka's drug policy which was a model for other policies including those of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Bibile left Sri Lanka to work for the United Nations in British Guyana and where he died in 1977 under mysterious circumstances for his pro poor policies.
In 2014, President Maithripala Sirisena, a former health minister, said that transnational drug companies had been trying to derail Bibile's policies.
According to the People's Movement for the Rights of Patients and research by health action groups, about 15,000 varieties of drugs have been registered for import and sale in the country. But Bibile's policy only allowed for about 1,000.
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