By G9ija

Sri Lanka has called for international support to overcome the acute shortage of drugs amidst cancelled operations and hardship for patients.

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella Friday ordered officials to have daily review meetings on drug supplies after medical associations and doctors voiced serious concerns about shortages.

“The Health Minister has called the government to expedite possible assistance from India to purchase medicines on a credit line system and other international organisations,’’ a health Ministry official said.

Sri Lanka’s shortage of medicines has been aggravated by an ongoing economic crisis leading to the lack of foreign reserves required to pay for medical supplies among other essentials.

The country was earlier hit by an acute shortage of fuel and gas supplies leading to rioting on the streets but it has managed to overcome the situation by providing fuel on a rationed system.

Health Ministry officials said they were short of some 150 essential drugs including some used for patients after surgical operations.

“We have complaints from hospitals throughout the country about the shortage of drugs and some cases of cancellation of non-urgent surgical operations,’’ spokesman for the Government Medical Officers Association, Dr Haritha Aluthge told dpa.

However, there were no immediate statistics to relate the shortages of medicines with possible deaths.

Sri Lanka has urged India to expedite the release of 250 million dollars for the purchase of medicines while appealing to other countries and international organisations for help.

The country is also in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance to pay for food and fuel imports in the coming months.