State-run hospitals hit by drug shortage

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By Dilanthi Jayamanne 

Several State-run hospitals are forced to temporarily halt some of their routine services this week and were running out of life-saving drugs, consumables and reagents – the most recent being the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL), Colombo.

Deputy Director General of NHSL, Dr. Samindhi Samarakoon, issuing an internal circular on Tuesday (29), to all Deputy Directors, Consultants, Medical Officers and grade medical officers has instructed them to limit routine investigations in their respective units till further notice due to the interruption in the supply chain for reagents of the NHSL Laboratory. She said, it was due to the economic crisis in the country. 

However, Deputy Director General Laboratory Services when contacted yesterday (30) said he was unable to say anything about the matter without seeing the letter of the NHSL Deputy Director General. 

Teaching Hospital, Karapitiya too had called for the temporary suspension of its routine surgeries due to the shortage of the anaesthetic drug Neostigmin. The Administrator of the Hospital issuing an internal communiqué on Tuesday (29) called for the suspension of routine surgeries. However, with the Medical Supplies Division supplying the drug the hospital was able to continue the surgeries. 

Meanwhile, the State Minister for Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals, Prof. Channa Jayasumana requested World Bank assistance to help Sri Lanka to overcome the drug shortage when the World Bank Regional Director for South Asia, Lynne Sherburne Benz and a team met him. 

Prof. Jayasumana appealed to him to assist Sri Lanka to continue obtaining medicines. A senior spokesman for the State Ministry said that the Regional Director had pledged to give top priority and make arrangements as early as possible.  

Teaching Hospital, Peradeniya on 28 March said it was suspending all routine surgeries and was out of anaesthetic drugs and other essentials for operations. However, routine surgeries were resumed following the intervention of officials after the announcement.