Doctors urge long-term solutions


With possibilities of a prolonged fuel crisis looming in the country, doctors urged authorities to provide long-term solutions to sustain the health service.

Media Committee Member of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe when contacted yesterday (27), observed that instead of providing temporary solutions to the fuel issue which had severely affected several sectors in the country, including the health service, steps should be taken to resolve the matter through a collaborative effort.

“There is no point in merely discussing the issue with the Health Ministry. Instead all parties concerned, namely, the Health Ministry, authorities of the Ministry of Power and Energy, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CEYPETCO), and the Ministry of Transport should all come to one table in order to give a long-lasting sustainable solution for the health service. The decisions should be carried out by a Task Force,” the Union member proposed. 

He emphasised the need for urgent action to be taken to prevent a further collapse of the State health service. Identifying the impacts of the fuel crisis on health, Dr. Wijesinghe said it had led to limitation of fuel provisions for hospital ambulances, the distribution of pharmaceuticals, and other hospital transportation. The shortage of fuel to operate generator systems during power outages could be disastrous, while it was even an obstacle faced by health service employees to report for duty.

The Media Committee Member observed that the shortage of fuel to operate hospital generator systems even affected the storage of pharmaceuticals. “How can injections and vaccines and medicinal drugs be kept in cold storage if there was no backup power generation system available to support hospitals during power cuts,” Dr. Wijesinghe queried.

Authorities have been unable to provide sustainable solutions to any of these issues, he accused. The ‘Fuel Friday’ proposed for the health service employees was also temporary and could only be implemented on three days, owing to mounting public opposition.

“The crisis in the peripheral hospitals in Kurunegala, Galgamuwa, Vavuniya, Moneragala, and Siyambalanduwa are becoming intense. The failure to provide a solution to this issue would only lead to the collapse of the health service within the ensuing weeks,” he warned.

Dr. Wijesinghe lamented that the fuel crisis in the health service was such that “It is questionable as to whether the country’s health service could be sustained long enough to even gauge the success of the QR code system that was introduced to provide fuel.”     

By Dilanthi Jayamanne