By Dilanthi Jayamanne
A decision taken by the Peradeniya Teaching Hospital to temporarily halt all scheduled surgeries due to the alleged shortage of drugs was reversed within a day, following the leaking of an internal circular on social media which prompted a tweet by the visiting External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, who expressed serious concern regarding the news.
Hospital Director, Dr. Arjuna Thilakarathna when contacted said, the decision to suspend routine surgeries due to a shortage of several essential drugs and consumable items used for anaesthesia and surgery at the hospital had been reversed following the intervention of the Medical Supplies Division (MSD). Issuing an internal circular, Dr. Thilakarathna said, the issue had been discussed during a hospital management meeting on Monday (28) and a decision had been taken at the time to suspend routine surgeries including surgeries on patients who were already admitted from Monday itself till further notice.
However, following the attention gained by the internal circular which had been issued to all Consultant Medical Officers and Grade Medical Officers, which was leaked on social media and electronic media, the MSD had agreed to issue the drugs that were required enabling the hospital to continue its routine surgeries without a break.
Nonetheless, the issue caught the attention of visiting Indian External Affairs Minister, Dr. Jaishankar, who expressed serious concern regarding the news. In a tweet Dr. Jaishankar said he was “disturbed”by the news and that he would ask Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay to contact and discuss how India could help.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals, Prof. Channa Jayasumana accused the Teaching Hospital Director of being politically motivated. Prof. Jayasumana said, the former’s aim had been to embarrass the Government. A probe would be carried out into the incident, he said. “Surgeries had been temporarily stopped citing a shortage of the anaesthetic drug Neostigmin, which is currently available with the MSD. The Hospital’s Director had made no attempt to inform the Health Ministry, State Minister or the MSD regarding this shortage.
“I contacted him the moment I saw the internal circular being circulated on social media. Prof. Jayasumana accused the Director of the Hospital of having told him that there was a shortage of the anaesthetic drug and consumables and of telling the State Ministry Secretary that only the anaesthetic drug was in short supply. The State Minister accused Dr. Thilakarathna of being politically motivated, at a juncture when there was a severe crisis with regard to foreign exchange.