Health Ministry yet to settle Rs. 12 b debt
a year ago
By Pamodi Waravita The Health Ministry is yet to pay its approximately Rs. 12 billion debt to its suppliers of medical equipment and resources, which could interrupt many medical services, Academy of Health Professionals President Ravi Kumudesh said yesterday (3). “Last week, the oxygen supply near the Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital was stopped by the private company supplying the resource. The Health Ministry owes Rs. 150 million to this company. Health Ministry Secretary Dr. S.H. Munasinghe is responsible for these stoppage of services. Last week, they put a small ‘plaster’ and covered up this incident. However, within the next few weeks, the entire health sector could fall as the Health Ministry is yet to even communicate a plan on how they will pay their debts,” said Kumudesh at a press briefing yesterday. Kumudesh said the official data by the Ministry shows that Rs. 9 billion of the total Rs. 12 billion debt has been recorded by the Ministry, whilst the remaining Rs. 3 billion is yet to enter its official records from the hospitals system. “Some of this debt is more than a year old. About Rs. 5 billion of the debt is more than six months old. This demonstrates the irresponsibility of the health officials. The public pays taxes for the public health service. Thus, the Government is bound to provide an efficient and an uninterrupted service in return,” said Kumudesh. He further claimed that Dr. Munasinghe is yet to even announce whether he has informed the Treasury Department of the aforementioned concerns. Kumudesh warned that if the health sector remains in debt, it will be forced to stop its Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and laboratory services facilities. According to Kumudesh, the laboratory services facilities of the health sector owes more than Rs. 2,000 million, as of date, to its private suppliers. “There is inefficiency here, where sometimes, a test that costs only Rs. 4 is done at around Rs. 20. This is all a mafia,” alleged Kumudesh. He recommended that the Health Ministry both formulate a plan to pay its debts and to reduce the costs in the services. The Morning’s multiple attempts to contact Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital Director (Acting) Dr. S. Samaraweera and the Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Munasinghe proved futile.