Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A National Health Policy to be launched on Dec 10th!

The Minister of Health announced that a National Health Policy would be announced on December 10th that will cover the next 5 years, more a 5 year plan for the Health Service.

If he is actually launching a Health Policy, he should have consulted all stakeholders before unilaterally making any announcement.

In any case it is admirable that the Govt. has allocated Rs125B in 2013 for the health service. Let us take that as a starting point and determine that the funds allocated are spent wisely.

For example there is no disagreement that the procurement of drugs and consumables for the health service is in a shambles, where corruption is rife and this public money is wasted on a grand scale. Steps must be taken to bring this into order, and unscrupulous tenders and unnecessary and time lapsed drugs not be imported. After all we are all too aware that we import gloves at twice the cost or more, than better quality surgical gloves that we export, because the commissions and fraud is greater in this particular item.

Of course the Minister maintained that the loss owing to this type of behavior is small, but that is just what he would say, and instead of making petty political points such as the opposition when in Govt. spent less than a quarter of that is irrelevant, as the time was different, costs were less than half and wastage was not at a maximum.

Oh what a waste! Is the expression I use all the time. It is because if only we had half the wastage in the Public Sector due to over invoicing, overcharging and payment for work done poorly or not at all, we would be at a different level of growth and return on investment.

It is sad that despite the record amounts borrowed ostensibly to speed infrastructural investment, when much of it is wasted on commissions and shoddy work, there is no accountability on the part of the state. When the debts inevitably have to repaid, it may be in the rule of another government which will have to make difficult and unpopular decisions, owing to the profligacy of the present regime.

Let us hope that for once the people in Sri Lanka will realize why!!

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