A sick nation can't be the hub of Asia
Daily Mirror Editorial
Apr 27, 2012

Whatever the rates of growth, inflation, foreign direct investments and other economic factors – with opposition critics and independent analysts saying Government officials are blowing up or doctoring the figures – one clear factor is that the general health of Sri Lanka’s people is far from healthy. Despite all the modern discoveries in medical technology, most people find themselves falling sick often and hospitals have become the most crowded places – with private hospitals also becoming a booming business. Whether it be a cliché or not, health is wealth and if we wish to build a healthy Sri Lanka – a miracle for the economic hub of Asia, we need healthy people who will be productive, creative and imaginative and contribute much towards a sustainable development of the country. Unfortunately the government has put health way down in the list in terms of financial allocation. Furthermore the government is still focusing on the curative aspects rather than the preventive aspects of health.

Instead of focusing on vital area for development, the government appears to be regularly diverting attention – the latest being the focus on a clown prince and his crooks in a suburb of Colombo. Clearly these diversions are intended to take the people’s attention away from the soaring cost of living with medical expenses taking a large share of the monthly wages of a family.

Among the structural adjustments required is a National Medicinal Drugs Policy (NMDP) based on the revered Professor Senaka Bibile’s essential medicines concept through which quality drugs could be made available to all people at affordable prices. Other adjustments include a National Medicinal Policy whereby all forms of medicine – Allopathy, Ayurveda, homeopathy, acupuncture and other forms – are given their due place. Sri Lanka also needs a charter of patients’ rights and responsibilities, a constitutional amendment to make health a fundamental right and a national food and nutritional policy whereby we will not be a dumping ground for garbage from the West and we will reduce the amount of agro chemicals used in local cultivation so that people won’t eat poison or polluted food.

We hope, the Health Minister, who has been promising and promising reforms for the past year will at least take some action soon to reduce the prices of drugs and stop the import of thousands of nonessential highly expensive drugs as a first step towards a patient-friendly health service.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka