July 21, 2024
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    No one should forget past hardships due to shortages of medicines, fuel, and fertilizers- Says the President at the annual conference of the AIPPOA Featured

    June 21, 2024

    President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasized the imperative of not forgetting the hardships endured in the past due to shortages of essential resources such as medicines, fuel and fertilizers critical for the country. He called upon all citizens to unite behind the government’s initiative aimed at fostering a new economic transformation in Sri Lanka, ensuring that future generations do not have to face similar challenges.

    The President highlighted this during his address at the 9th General Assembly of the All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association (AIPPOA), which took place yesterday (20) afternoon at the Golden Rose Hotel in Boralesgamuwa.

    The President also extended his appreciation to the All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association for their steadfastness during the past COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, fulfilling their responsibilities to the country.

    Following the enactment of the New Medicines Act in 2015, the establishment of the All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association has been facilitated. The association has played a crucial role in regulating drug prices, ensuring adequate drug supply, and actively contributing to various social welfare initiatives, including bolstering the government’s kidney fund and health fund.

    President Ranil Wickremesinghe presented awards to All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association (AIPPOA) President Chandika Gankanda, top-performing officials and to top – performing District Associations.

    The Board of Directors of the All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association also presented a memento to the President.

    President Ranil Wickremesinghe, addressing the occasion, further remarked:

    “I would like to extend my sincere gratitude on behalf of the Government to the All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association for supplying essential medicines during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Your proactive response and commitment were crucial during a challenging period when governmental systems faced significant strain.

    Furthermore, as per the communication from your association, we are actively engaging to address arising issues and implement necessary actions. It is undeniable that many lives in our country have been preserved due to your dedication. In the past, there were financial constraints hindering access to essential medicines nationwide, yet you remained steadfast. Your unwavering commitment exemplifies the responsibility we expect from every citizen of our nation, a trait unfortunately not always prevalent.

    Neither you nor I are unfamiliar with these challenges, but we are collectively dedicated to rebuilding our country to the best of our abilities.

    When I assumed leadership of this country, we faced dire circumstances. Foreign exchange was scarce, and funds for essential medicines and fuel were lacking. We were confronted with tough choices, deciding whether to allocate funds for fuel or fertilizers. Opting for fertilizers, we revived agricultural activities, boosting production and ensuring access to medicines and fuel for our people. It was a challenging period, but crucial support from the Indian and Bangladeshi governments enabled us to import medicines and essential food items, sustaining us through the initial difficult 06 months. Subsequently, the nation began to progress steadily.

    During this time, there were heart-wrenching moments when people sought medicines without means to pay. You have faced the agonizing choice of denying them medication or providing aid amidst scarcity. These decisions were agonizing, but collectively, they propelled our country forward. Implementing necessary measures, including VAT adjustments, bolstered our revenue streams, strengthened the rupee, and facilitated economic progress. Today, we are advancing as a nation due to the resilience shown during these trying times.

    Last week, we concluded the second round of discussions with the IMF Board of Directors. We received confirmation that the program guiding Sri Lanka is on the right track. Consequently, we have been granted an extension to repay our debts. Currently, negotiations are underway with China to finalize these arrangements. Additionally, discussions are on-going with both Paris Club and non-Paris Club member countries, as well as with official creditors’ committees, to reach agreements.

    This marks a significant step towards lifting the country out of the crisis it has faced. However, our journey does not end here. It is imperative that we reflect on the reasons behind our economic challenges.

    Historically, Sri Lanka has not cultivated a robust export industry despite numerous opportunities. In 1979, during my visit to China, the country was economically less developed than Sri Lanka. Today, China supports us financially. Similarly, in 1991, as Minister of Industry, I met with Vietnam’s Industry Minister, who sought advice on attracting investments, earning foreign exchange, and establishing economic zones. Now, if I were to visit Vietnam, I would seek advice from them.

    We have squandered many opportunities. If we fail to rectify this and transition to a new economic paradigm, we risk sliding back into economic turmoil. To prevent a return to those dark days, we have introduced a new economic program for the country.

    We must depart from the old system and embrace a new paradigm. Our trajectory should mirror the progress achieved by nations like India and Bangladesh, fostering a competitive economy. Embracing cutting-edge technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is essential as we envision and build a revitalized nation.

    Minister of Industry and Health Dr. Ramesh Pathirana:

    I wish to express my appreciation for the All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association for their invaluable contribution to upholding the standards of Sri Lanka’s healthcare sector. Their steadfast efforts in controlling drug prices and ensuring uninterrupted drug supply deserve commendation.

    The health and well-being of our citizens hinge on the entirety of our healthcare system. Sri Lanka’s healthcare service stands strong globally, offering exemplary standards. To further enhance patient welfare, legislation on patient safety is forthcoming. Additionally, efforts are underway to bolster rehabilitation and palliative care services.

    As a nation, we have successfully navigated global competition, bolstering our healthcare infrastructure with increased numbers and enhanced quality of hospitals, doctors, and nurses. Significant improvements have been made in physical healthcare facilities, supported by the largest budget allocation in history to safeguard free healthcare.

    With your continued support, we are committed to advancing patient care services for the benefit of all Sri Lankans.

    Member of Parliament Rajitha Senaratne:

    The All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association has exemplified a dedication to national service, prioritizing public welfare over profit, especially during challenging times in the past. This echoes the leadership of President Ranil Wickremesinghe today. Initially, many doubted his ability to revive the country from economic crisis within such a short span, but today, we must acknowledge his achievements. Anyone who observes objectively must recognize his role in bringing our country to its current state.

    Internationally, Sri Lanka is recognized as one of the fastest-recovering nations among those previously facing economic collapse. This achievement is widely applauded globally, with many referring to Sri Lanka’s recovery as an economic miracle unprecedented in history. The International Monetary Fund has even suggested that other countries, like Ethiopia, could learn from Sri Lanka’s economic strategies under President Wickremesinghe’s leadership. However, domestically, criticisms persist. It’s crucial for all of us to grasp the actual situation within our country and recognize these realities.

    All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association President Chandika Gankanda:

    I don’t need to recount the situation in this country two years ago. Back then, pharmacies played a critical role in safeguarding public health. People lined up for kilometres outside pharmacies, desperate for medicine they couldn’t afford. There were times when life-saving medications simply weren’t available. It was during this dire period that President Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed leadership of the country.

    In households with three family members, each family member had to stand in separate queues for their medicines and their requirements due to the shortage. he scarcity of fuel compounded the challenges of distributing medicine. Fortunately, President Ranil Wickremesinghe, elected with just one Parliamentary seat, assumed the presidency. Otherwise, we might have faced a period where basic sustenance was a matter of life or death.

    As the country begins to recover, I extend my heartfelt appreciations to the President for supporting our businesses during this critical time.

    The event was attended by a significant gathering, including the Patron of the All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association Ven. Kuppiawatte Bodhananda Thero, Member of Parliament Ashoka Abeysinghe, officials from the Ministry of Health, representatives from the Drug Importers Association, and members of the All-Island Private Pharmacy Owners’ Association.

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