Thursday, March 7, 2013

What a waste? Now it is the Health Sector – leading to tragic deaths

The tragedy of Sri Lanka continues, where the hard pressed health sector, with dedicated doctors and nurses who work all hours with complete dedication and diligence, have to face unions and corrupt practices that have been carried out for years, where prices of medicines are inflated and other totally unnecessary costs are incurred, which effectively results in poorer service to long suffering public.

It is commendable that the health minister has the courage to point this out to the public, but it is also an indication of the corruption, where even the Minister is prevented from taking corrective action as vested interests even go above him to higher orders, preventing him from stopping this fleecing of public resources. In his new role as accused he can see more clearly the faults of his administration.

We read recently how the rubber glove contract was given to a Sri Lankan firm for a fraction of the previous cost, where the tender had gone to a foreign concern, as kickbacks had been paid overseas, with no trace locally on what went on.

We can NO LONGER rely on the honesty and integrity of government servants not to fleece the public by dipping their fingers into the public purse, by over invoicing for health supplies. Doctors and Nurses, make life changing and life and death decisions daily in hospitals, and to think that people have died in their hundreds due to lack of resources, because of funds being misused, is a tragedy our country.

We have heard of expired saline, and expired almost everything so that the people in charge of purchasing can make personal fortunes from commissions and such like. Lack of medicine is now the latest tragedy to hit the state hospitals.

I am not a clairvoyant to predict the amount of the loss as a result of these corrupt practices, but I suspect it to be quite substantial, and every rupee lost is a cost to each patient who seeks treatment in our state hospitals.

Doctors are not wholly innocent either, especially in the provinces, where they send patients to their private practice or to clinics for tests. The clinics are owned by a group of doctors who often send patients for unnecessary tests such as scans for perfectly healthy pregnancies. It is shameful that something as basic as health is used by unscrupulous health services staff to feather their own nests!

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