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Sri Lanka Sends Sos For Lifesaving And Emergency Medicine Supplies

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NEW DELHI :

Sri Lanka has reached out to the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association (IDMA) seeking supplies of emergency medicines and lifesaving drugs as hospitals run out of stocks because of the economic crisis that has engulfed the nation.

“We have received a communication from Sri Lankan counterparts requesting medical supplies. There are very few companies who do business with Sri Lanka, and only those who have the licence can supply the material there,” said Daara Patel, secretary-general, IDMA. “They have given us the list of medicines which we have circulated to all our members. As and when our members respond to us, we will see how best we can help Sri Lanka. I think some of them would definitely come forward to support Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka is seeking emergency aid to secure lifesaving drugs amid its worst economic crisis. The island nation, which imports 85% of its medicine requirements, has run out of dollars to pay for imports, putting its healthcare system on the brink of collapse. The Sri Lankan government has also appealed to other countries to donate lifesaving drugs.

“I wish to inform you that the government of Sri Lanka, via its diplomatic missions abroad, has circulated an international appeal for the donation of emergency and lifesaving drugs that are not manufactured in Sri Lanka and which cannot be procured through the line of credit extended by India,” Niluka Kadurugamuwa, the deputy high commissioner and spokesman of Sri Lanka’s high commission in New Delhi, said in an email response to a query.

An 8 April communication from the island nation’s state ministry of production, supply and regulation of pharmaceuticals to its foreign ministry said, “There is a considerable amount of vital medical supplies such as orthopaedic implants, anti-cancer drugs, reagents and consumables used at blood banks, HLA (human leukocyte antigen) testing, HIV-AIDS testing reagents and laboratory reagents that are imported from the US, Europe and Australia. Due to the prevailing foreign reserve crisis, it has been extremely difficult to maintain the supply chain of above mentioned extremely important medical supplies imported from Europe.”

While giving a list of 273 such items, the ministry said, “We would be extremely grateful if you could assist state ministry in coordinating with foreign missions and any other interested donors to maintain the medical supplies which are not manufactured in Sri Lanka and could not be imported using the Indian credit line.”

Sri Lanka is India’s 18th largest partner in terms of pharma trade. India exported pharma goods worth more than $274.4 million to Sri Lanka in FY21, marking a 25% growth over the previous year. However, exports fell to $234.56 million in the following year.

Earlier, the State Pharmaceuticals Corp. of Sri Lanka said it had asked the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India to “sensitize” its members on the need to ensure medical supplies to the crisis-hit country. Given the financial crisis, Indian manufacturers are worried about payments for their exports to Sri Lanka.

In a separate communication dated 11 April to donors reviewed by Mint, the state ministry of production, supply and regulation of pharmaceuticals said, “the state ministry is utilizing the maximum capacity of the local production and has also initiated to utilize the Indian credit line to the maximum effect to purchase medical supplies for Sri Lanka.”

The 11 April letter said donations could either be sent in dollars or goods.

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