‘Health Ministry responsible for infant deaths in Galle’

National Drug Policy a farce

By Don AsokaWijewardena                                                                                                    

National Organiser of the Prof. Senaka Bibile Commemorative Association Dr. Jayantha Bandara yesterday blamed the Health Ministry for the deaths of twelve babies at Mahamodara Teaching hospital. He said though health workers had pointed out many shortcomings at the hospitals, the Health authorities had done precious little to correct the situation. Therefore, he argued, the Health Ministry could not absolve itself of the responsibility for the infant deaths.

Dr. Bandara told the media yesterday that several babies had died of a bacterial infection but there were other causes as well. The Special Baby Care Unit was located upstairs, he said, adding that it was not properly sterilized. "The ceiling is in a state of disrepair and there is a shortage of ET tubes," he said.

The Special Baby Care Unit consisted of 22 beds, but it had only five nurses. There should be at least 25 nurses, Dr. Bandara said. Drugs and surgical items were out of stock. There was a severe dearth of gloves for nurses. Even syringes were not freely available, he said.

Dr.Bandara said that hospitals experienced a chronic shortage of commonly used antibiotics and the available drugs were sub-standard and therefore not efficacious.  The entire health sector was in a crisis but the Health Ministry was doing nothing to solve it, he said.

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