<br>The Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, Gopal Baglay, on Friday handed over the consignment comprising 107 types of critical lifesaving medicines weighing over 760 kg to Sri Lanka Health Minister Channa Jayasumana.
Due to the urgency, the consignment was expeditiously delivered using the Indian Naval Ship Ghariyal.
“More medical consignments in response to specific requests by various medical entities operating in all parts of Sri Lanka are also being scheduled from India,” Baglay said in a statement.
The urgent lifesaving drugs supply followed Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s offer to assist the island’s Central Hill-country Hospital in Peradeniya which announced in late March that all scheduled surgeries were to be suspended due to lack of drugs and consumables.
Disturbed by the news, Jaishankar, who was on a visit to Sri Lanka last month, had instructed Baglay to discuss how India could help.
A week later, in the first week of April, all major medical trade unions collectively warned and declared a medical crisis as doctors and hospitals reported widespread shortage of medicines.
The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), the country’s biggest union of doctors, then urged the World Health Organization and all the countries to immediately supply much-needed medicines and consumables to Sri Lanka.
Last week, state-sector pharmacists working at government hospitals had warned that 50 per cent of medical supplies were out of stock.
The President of the Society of Government Pharmacists, Ajith P Thilakarante, had said that 525 drugs, including some life-saving medicines, and 5,376 medical supplies were not available in the hospitals.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis leading to a medical crisis has seen hospitals postponing surgeries and medical trade unions declaring a national health emergency over shortage of life-saving drugs.
On Thursday, former Sri Lanka cricket captain Sanath Jayasuriya, who met the Indian High Commissioner, had appreciated India’s support in this critical situation and had specifically requested the supply of essential cancer medicines and other life-saving drugs.
“The ace cricketer appreciated India’s support in the form of essential supplies, including medicines,” the High Commission tweeted.
India has provided economic assistance to Sri Lanka to the tune of nearly $3 billion in 2022, including $1 billion credit line for essentials; $500 million credit line for purchase of petroleum products; $400 million bilateral currency swap; and over $1 billion under the Asian Clearing Union Framework.