Effective zonal lockdowns a pipe dream – GMOA
The Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry had several unresolved deficiencies which was having a severe impact on timely and effective zonal lockdowns and lockouts, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) lamented. In a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, signed by the President and Secretary of the Union, Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya and Dr. Senal Fernando, the unionists said the zonal lockdowns and the lockouts needed to be guided by continuous and real-time situation analysis for which the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry was “primarily responsible.” They said only two out of 12 consultant community physicians of the Unit were involved in the COVID19 management effort. “There is lack of data sharing, need for Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping, failure to provide data below district level, and discrepancies in testing data.
” The duo said the Health capacity for the mitigation of COVID-19 had three aspects. Namely, preventive, testing and patient care strategies. The union said although the grassroots level delivery of care contributed towards control of the pandemic, the contribution at the Health Ministry as well as the testing scheme was inadequate for decisionmaking. “Even the Army Intelligence reports are part based on the sub optimal analysis provided by the Epidemiology Unit,” they said.
The Union urged the President to ensure accurate data handling at the Epidemiology Unit. “Ensure involvement of all consultant community physicians and increase the testing capacity to an adequate level, while minimising the discrepancies,” were amongst the recommendations of the GMOA. Meanwhile, speaking to the Media, Assistant Secretary of the GMOA, Dr. Naveen D. Zoysa, said the public should be kept informed of the situation.
Currently, there is a fastdeclining shortage of beds to cater to patients with the viral infection. In addition to increasing the bed strength, there is also a need for human resources to attend to them. The union has even mobilised its membership to meet the demand for human resources in the medical field, but all this would be of no use if the public does not adhere to safety measures and the new normal lifestyle, and the Government fails to take timely action to prevent and control the disease, he said.