Dwindling supplies, long power cuts:Hospitals reel under med emergency

KANDY : With Sri Lanka’s economic crisis triggering a medical emergency in the country, hospitals are reeling under acute shortage of medicines. The long hours of power cuts and diesel shortage have only exacerbated the crisis.
A doctor on duty at the National Hospital in Kandy, the second largest city after Colombo, said medical supplies were dwindling fast. In small town hospitals, ambulances have been hit hard due to shortage of diesel. Patients in all hospitals are facing difficulties, said a senior member of a government committee constituted to handle the crisis. Medical investigations of patients are slowing down as maintaining biological samples at the desired temperature is proving difficult due to long hours of power cuts.
“There is a shortage of life saving drugs. Prices are going up with budget allocations for health reducing. We are not able to maintain ICUs and storing injections and vaccines for polio, measles, rubella, diphtheria in freezers and getting fuel are other major problems,” said the officer. Covid-19 vaccination drives have ground to a halt.
Sources in the Indian high commission in Colombo said the credit line for drugs to be supplied to Sri Lanka was under discussion. Northern Province governor Jeevan Thiagarajah told TOI that health officials have been stocking up on medicines for a while in anticipation of a crisis.
Asenior medical health officer of the province said on the condition of anonymity that they were managing with available medicines. “We are getting special allocation for ambulances, hospital generators for ICUs and other vehicles from the Petroleum Corporation,” said the officer.
On April 5, the country’s top medical union declared a national health emergency in the wake of shortage of life saving drugs. The Government Medical Officers’ Association called a meeting and declared amedical crisis. Sri Lanka exports at least 85% of pharmaceutical products. The warning had come early with the Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry indicating that some drugs were out of stock. “Both the government and health ministry have failed to prevent a complete breakdown of the medical system,” the GMOA had said.

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