The 80 percent pictorial warning and 90 percent tax imposed on cigarettes, one of the highest in the world have helped reduce smoking by 47 percent in Sri Lanka, Health Minister Dr.Rajitha Senaratne said.
The Health Ministry imposed a tax and pictorial warning to control the non-communicable diseases in the country.
As a result, tobacco companies have taken this as a war waged against them and they will react, the Minister told the Sunday Observer yesterday. Multinational drug and tobacco companies always react against politicians who take actions against them.
They use various methods to get over measures to reduce the use of tobacco.They would even bribe the doctor’s unions and use them against me. The unions will be the mouth piece of multinationals.
That is why after doing all that on behalf of them, these doctor’s unions are acting against the Government and the Health Minister. We are aware that they are being looked after by these drug and tobacco companies, the Minister said. Dr. Senaratne said the Government has reduced the prices of 48 essential drugs. Thereafter the prices of cataract lenses were reduced. At present, steps are being taken to reduce the prices of stents.
“A decision will also be taken to reduce the prices of other expensive drugs such as cancer drugs and to regulate them. Earlier, a cancer patient was given a maximum of Rs. 1.5 million for his treatments. Now that limit has been removed the Government has spent over Rs.12 to 13 million to provide drugs to some cancer patients,” Dr.Senaratne said
He said at present the Ministry provides stents free.The price of stents vary from Rs.75,000 to 350,000. If a patient has to fix three stents, it costs over Rs. one million. Now he doesn’t need to spend that amount as stents are provided free. At present, all blood tests are done in Government hospitals free and all drugs are available in state hospitals without any shortage.