The current fuel crisis is capable of shutting down entire units and hospitals, without even a strike, if the Health Ministry fails to apply all possible pressure to obtain fuel to maintain their functions, Doctors warned.

Media Spokesman for the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe yesterday (30) warned that the collapse of the Government health service was inevitable as already service categories were unable to run the health institutions satisfactorily as staff members were not able to turn up for duty due to the fuel shortage. “They can’t come in for work as their vehicles don’t have petrol or diesel,” he said noting that it had led to the halting of some of the routine services, including surgeries, from being performed.

The GMOA Media Spokesman urged the Health Ministry to apply all possible pressure to obtain fuel for the State health service to continue functioning. It cannot simply be carried out by that establishment alone as it requires a collaborative effort on the parts of even Local Government authorities, the Power and Energy Ministry, Petroleum Corporation, the Shed Owners the Security Forces and the general public, he noted.

Dr. Wijesinghe noted that the health service should be given top priority even from amongst the essential services to prevent a complete collapse. The provision of fuel for health services were carried out smoothly in some sheds on 24 June 2022 while chaos prevailed in most others that had been identified for the task of serving the essential services. With reports of arrival of ships carrying fuel being three to four weeks away the Government should ensure that the State health service does not fall apart by the time they sail into the Sri Lankan harbour, he observed.

A total of 85 sheds around the country have been identified to provide fuel to the vehicles owned by the country’s health staff today (1 July). Therefore, while the public should be more understanding of the critical situation, the Security Forces should be present to provide safety for the health care workers, he said.  

By Dilanthi Jayamanne