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Friday June 2nd, 2023

Only two ECMO machines to treat COVID-19 patients in Sri Lanka; MoH looking to acquire more

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has is looking to acquire more Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machines to treat COVID-19 patients that suffer severe symptoms, an expert said.

Prof P T R Makuloluwa, senior Lecturer in Anaesthesia, Faculty of Medicine, told EconomyNext that the Ministry of Health (MoH) is currently studying avenues to acquire the machines for hospitals that treat COVID-19 patients.

“We had a discussion with the ministry and Director of Health Services Dr Asela Gunawardena regarding this. Once we do get the machines, it is important to have trained staff to operate them as well,” Makuloluwa said.

At present, Sri Lanka has two ECMO machines: one at the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital (LRCH) and the other at the Karapitya Teaching Hospital in Galle. The machine at LRCH has not been used for over a year, hospital sources said.

According to the University of California’s website, the ECMO machine is similar to the heart-lung by-pass machine used in open-heart surgery and pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. When a patient is connected to an ECMO, blood flows through tubing to an artificial lung in the machine that adds oxygen and takes out carbon dioxide. The blood is then warmed to body temperature and pumped back into the patient’s body.

Dr Gayan Danthanarayana who passed away yesterday at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital due to COVID-19 was connected to the ECMO machine at the hospital. Deputy Director General Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath told EconomyNext today that, despite this, the patient did not survive due to the severity of his condition.

Prof Makuloluwa, who is also Consultant Anaesthetist at Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) Hospital, meanwhile, said that MoH officials had declared their intention to divert the machine at LRCH to a hospital that treats COVID-19 patients.

LRCH Director Dr G Wijesuriya, however, said even though the machine had lain dormant for some time, no request had been made to divert it to another hospital to treat COVID-19 patients.

“So far it has not been used during my stay at the hospital, and no one has made a request for the machine either,” Wijesuriyia told EconomyNext.

The ECMO machine can be used to support COVID-19 patients who suffer from pneumonia and face difficulties in breathing. Countries such as Vietnam started deploying ECMO machines throughout their hospital network to oxygenate the blood of elderly COVID-19 patients who cannot be saved with mechanical ventilators.

Pediatric surgeon Dr Cethan Sathya writing to the Washington Post in April last year said that though the machine has kept patients alive in the US, the procedure is a resource-intensive, costly and risky treatment with many complications.

“It may only improve survival for a small number of COVID-19 patients — though the data is limited. So this raises the question: Should we be adopting widespread use of ECMO for COVID-19 patients when our health-care system is struggling with a lack of simpler resources?” he wrote. (Colombo/ Feb02/2021)

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Sri Lanka to ramp up weekend fuel deliveries after petrol price cut

More deaths reported at Sri Lanka fuel queues

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Petroleum Corporation will be operating on the weekend to complete all fuel deliveries to end vehicle queues forming outside fuel stations after the price revision earlier in the week, Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said.

“Instructions have been given to CPC and Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals to continue fuel deliveries on Saturday and Sunday this week to supply sufficient stocks to all fuel stations,” Minister Wijesekera said in a TWITTER.COM MESSAGE

“To reduce expenses on overtime, CPC and CPSTL have not been operating on Sundays and public holidays in the last 4 months,” Wijesekera said.

“Non-placement of orders by fuel stations from last Saturday, anticipating a price reduction, not maintaining minimum stocks, immediate increase in demand by consumers after the price revision, and quota increase have created shortages in the fuel stations.”

The Minister in April 2023 said all fuel stations would be required to maintain a minimum of 50 percent of stock tank capacity.

“I have asked CPC to review and suspend the license of fuel stations that had not maintained minimum stocks.” (Colombo/ June 02/ 2023)

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Sri Lanka bonds yield up at close, rupee at 291.75/292.50 against the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bonds closed steady on Friday, dealers said, following the central bank’s decision to cut its main policy rate by 250 basis points.

The Spot US dollar closed at 291.75/292.50 rupees, dealers said.

The rupee opened at 290.25/75 to the US dollar Thursday and closed at 292.50/295.50 to the US dollar.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 24.70/90 percent up from 24.50/90 percent a day earlier, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 15.05.2026 closed at 25.75/26.25 percent up from 25.00/26.00 percent a day earlier.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2025 closed at 27.00/30 percent, up from 26.30/27.00 per cent at last close.

A bond maturing on 01.07.2032 closed at 20.25/21.00 percent, up from 20.00/40 per cent at last close.
(Colombo/ June 02/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s shares edge up on positive macroeconomic sentiments

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s shares closed higher in trade on Friday, over positive macro-sentiments encouraging investors to redeem their interest towards buying, an analyst said.

The main All Share Price Index was up 0.72 percent or 62.19 points to 8,753.80,  while the most liquid index S&P SL20 was up 0.68 percent or 16.87 points to 2,487.29.

Sri Lanka’s inflation in the 12-months to May 2023 has eased to 25.2 percent from 35.3 percent a month earlier according to a revised Colombo Consumer Price Index calculated by the state statistics office.

Prior to the Monetary Policy investors were quite optimistic that inflation is to lower and interest rates will decrease and since exp, an analyst said.

Sri Lanka Central Bank is waiting for the government proposal on the domestic debt restructuring (DDR), the central bank governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said amid uncertainty over DDR and speculations over instability in the banking sector.

“On debt restructuring, the borrower is the ministry of finance’s treasury. Certainly we will announce what the strategy will be. We are waiting for a government proposal,” Weerasinghe said.

Sri Lanka’s investors are waiting on assurances to be made on debt restructuring and optimization, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe said, “It is up to the government to clear the uncertainty, because from our side we have done that part.”

The central bank cut the key policy rates by 250 basis points to spur a faltering economic growth as inflation was decelerating faster than it projected.

The speculation of DDR has hit the market and the risk premium has kept the market lending rates well above the central bank’s policy rates. The government has yet to present its plans on DDR.

Weerasinghe said the central bank has done its best to reduce the risk premium through bringing down the market lending rates while keeping the policy rates unchanged.

Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

However Officials from IMF have said Sri Lanka has to focus on expanding taxes.

“We discussed the importance of fiscal measures, in particular revenue measures, for a return to macroeconomic stability,” Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura said in a statement.

The finance ministry this week issued rules requiring everyone above 18 year of age to register to pay income tax.

“I was encouraged by the authorities’ commitment to negotiate a debt strategy in a timely and transparent manner.

The market generated a revenue of 738 million rupees, while the daily average was 1 billion rupees.

Top gainers in trade were Vallibel One, LOLC Finance and Browns Investment. (Colombo/June02/2023)

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