ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s ongoing economic crisis is affecting all sectors including health, with some state hospitals being forced to temporarily halt non-emergency surgeries and limit routine investigations.
The Karapitiya Teaching Hospital in the southern district of Galle faced a temporary shortage of Neostigmine, an anaesthetic medicine, on Tuesday (29), prompting the director of the hospital to temporarily halt all routine surgeries until the medicine was restocked later that day.
A letter bearing the hospital director’s signature circulated online, but the official confirmed to EconomyNext Wednesday (30) that the situation was temporary and regular services have resumed.
“It was renewed within the day, and operations are being carried out as usual,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) in Colombo has also advised staff to limit the number of routine investigations until further notice.
A letter issued to all deputy directors, consultants and other medical officers by the Deputy Director of the NHSL said due to the current financial crisis in the country, the supply chain for reagents of laboratories has been interrupted and it is advised to limit routine investigations in all units until further notice.
Media reports also showed a medicine shortage at the NHSL where patients have reportedly been told to obtain medicine from privately owned pharmacies.
On Monday, the Peradeniya Teaching hospital also announced a decision to stop all routine surgeries, including surgeries of patients already admitted, until further notice. According to an official letter by the hospital director, this was due to a shortage in several essential drugs and consumable items used for anesthesia and surgery.
News of the hospital’s decision prompted visiting Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar to direct the Indian high commission in Colombo to intervene if possible. Later reports said that the situation was brought under control and routine surgeries would continue as normal.
Due to the forex issue in the country, the health industry is struggling to open letters of credit (LCs) to import medicine to the country.
Earlier this month, private medicine importers informed the general public of possible future shortages of drug as commercial banks declined their requests to open LCs with priority being given to importation of fuel. (Colombo/Mar30/2022)