GMOA to withdraw from Health Ministry’s technical committees over GPS mapping delay

ECONOMYNEXT – The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) has decided to withdraw from the Ministry of Health’s technical committees citing a delay in GPS mapping of identified COVID-19 cases in Sri Lanka, a spokesman said.

“Why can’t we publish all identified cases on a single map? We have been discussing this for a month now, but nothing has happened,” GMOA spokesman Dr Haritha Aluthge told reporters today.

In a letter dated October 9, the GMOA wrote to the Ministry of Health calling for a GPS mapping mechanism to track down COVID-19 patients. The letter noted that Consultant Community Physician of the National Renal Disease Prevention and Research Unit of the Ministry of Health Dr. Pubudu de Silva had already informed Sri Lanka’s health authorities of the capacity to conduct GPS mapping of COVID-19 patients within the Colombo Municipal Council area.

Speaking to reporters today, Dr Aluthge said the GMOA held discussions with the Director General of Health Services in this regard yesterday, where the association conveyed to the latter that there was no point in providing technical assistance to the authorities when there was no cooperation from the Ministry of Health.

“There is no point in our continuing to be in the ministry’s technical committees if this is not implemented. We have therefore decided to disengage from actively participating in the committee’s activities. We’ll reach a final decision next week if [the authorities] fail to put a mechanism forward,” Aluthge said.

The spokesman further said that the government’s capacity for PCR testing continues to be a concern. Noting that 8,500  people in the community, he said a majority of cases have been identified in the community rather than at quarantine centres.

“Before the Minuwangoda cluster we had around 3,000 patients. For almost nine months we had around 3,000 and within a month’s period it increased to more than 8,000,” said Alutghe.

“We expect health authorities to increase the number of PCR tests to a satisfactory level,” he added.

Aluthge further said that with yesterday’s results it has been confirmed that cases have spread throughout the country to every district.

“Until yesterday we said some areas such as Kilinochchi is free of COVID-19, but yesterday we found a a patient there as well,” he said.

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With 5,863 active cases in the country, Aluthge said the government should focus on methods to identify patients efficiently to stop community transmission.

“This is a very challenging number for the health sector,” he said.

“We have to find alternative methods to counter the rapidly increasing number of patients, such as the rapid antigen test. We are in the process of getting it started. We request the government to make it available as soon as it is ready.”

Aluthge also noted that complaints are being made that results are being delayed by more than 72 hours.

“Some people call and inform us that their results are delayed for 3-4 days. We ask the authorities to make the results available within 24 hours. If results get delayed for 48 hours, it is difficult for the country to move forward,” he said. (Colombo/ Nov04/2020)

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