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Wednesday February 1st, 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 bond yields down at close

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s bond yields were down at close following a bond auction on Wednesday, dealers said while a guidance peg for interbank transactions remained unchanged.

“The rates were steady at the auction,” a dealer said.

“This can be a signal to the market saying the rates will go down in the future.”

A bond maturing on 01.07.2025 closed at 32.40/60 percent, down from yesterday’s 32.60/85 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2027 closed at 29.10/35 marginally down from yesterday’s 29.20/75 percent.

The Central Bank’s guidance peg for interbank US dollar transactions remained unchanged at 362.14 rupees against the US dollar.

Commercial banks offered dollars for telegraphic transfers at 371.38 rupees on Friday, data showed. (Colombo/Feb 01/2022)

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Sri Lanka bill auction hits pothole after 2025 bond spike

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka sold only 45 billion rupees in Treasury bills at Wednesday’s auction after offering 120 billion rupees, data from the state debt office showed, amid market confusion over a spike in a two year bond at an earlier action.

30.1 billion rupees of 3-month bills were sold at 29.91 percent, unchanged from a week earlier after offering 60 billion rupees for auction.

5.1 billion rupees of 6-month bills were sold at 28.72 percent, flat after offering 30 billion.

10.3 billion rupees of 12-month bills were sold at 27.72 percent after offering 30 billion.

Phase II subscriptions have been opened.

The market was foxed after the 2025 bonds were accepted at sharply higher yield than market on January 30, dealer said.

There was further confusion as the there was an outright purchase of 2025 at around 29 percent earlier in January.

Some investors speculated that the authorities were trying to drive more buyers towards short end bonds as bill volumes were getting larger. (Colombo/Feb01/2023)

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Sri Lanka services exports down 5.9-pct in 2022

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s services exports were estimated to have fallen 5.9 percent to 1,876.3 million US dollars, the island’s Export Development Board said.

Services exports estimated is made up of ICT/BPM, construction, financial services, transport and logistics.

There are more than 500 ICT companies, the EDB said.

Sri Lanka’s merchandise exports were up 4.6 percent to US dollars 13.1 billion dollars in 2022 from 2021.

Sri Lanka’s goods exports are slowing amid lower growth in Western markets. (Colombo/ Feb 01/2023)

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