Sri Lankan medicine shortage a death sentence for some, doctors say


COLOMBO (Reuters) – A shortage of medicine brought on by an financial disaster in Sri Lanka may quickly trigger deaths, doctors stated, as hospitals are compelled to postpone life-saving procedures for their sufferers as a result of they don’t have the mandatory medicine.

Sri Lanka imports greater than 80% of its medical provides however with international foreign money reserves operating out due to the disaster, important medicines are disappearing from cabinets and the healthcare system is near collapse.

At the 950-bed Apeksha most cancers hospital on the outskirts of the industrial capital, Colombo, sufferers, their family members and doctors really feel more and more helpless within the face of the shortages that are forcing the suspension of assessments and postponement of procedures together with essential surgical procedure.

“It could be very unhealthy for most cancers sufferers,” stated Dr Roshan Amaratunga.

“Sometimes, within the morning we plan for some surgical procedures (however) we could not be capable of do on that exact day … as (provides) are usually not there.”

If the state of affairs doesn’t enhance rapidly, a number of sufferers can be dealing with a digital death sentence, he stated.

Sri Lanka is grappling with its most devastating financial disaster since independence in 1948, caused by COVID-19 battering the tourism-reliant economic system, rising oil costs, populist tax cuts and a ban on the import of chemical fertilisers, which devastated agriculture.

A authorities official engaged on procuring medical provides, stated about 180 objects had been operating out, together with injections for dialysis sufferers, medicine for sufferers who’ve undergone transplants and sure most cancers medicine.

The official, Saman Rathnayake, instructed Reuters that India, Japan and multilateral donors had been serving to to supply provides, but it surely may take as much as 4 months for objects to reach.

In the meantime, Sri Lanka has known as on non-public donors, each at house and overseas, for assist, he stated.


Doctors say they’re extra frightened than the sufferers or their family members, as they’re conscious of the gravity of the state of affairs and the results.

Referring to the ever present queues for petrol and cooking gasoline, Dr Vasan Ratnasingam, a spokesman for the Government Medical Officers’ Association, stated the results for individuals awaiting therapy had been a lot extra dire.

“If sufferers are in a queue for medicine, they’ll lose their lives,” stated Ratnasingam.

The mom of Binuli Bimsara, a four-year-old woman being handled for leukaemia, stated she and her husband had been terrified.

“Earlier, we had not less than some hope as a result of we had the medicine however now we live below great worry,” the mom stated.

“We are actually helpless, our future is de facto darkish once we hear about a shortage of medicines. We haven’t got cash to take our youngster overseas for therapy.”

Indian authorities delivered 25 tonnes of medical provides, together with different support, on Sunday, officers stated.

“At no time has India assisted some other nation to this extent … This is one thing for which we’re deeply grateful,” Sri Lanka’s international minister, G.L. Peiris, stated at Colombo’s port as he stood by a vessel bringing in hundreds of sacks of provides.

“This might be probably the most tough interval that Sri Lanka has needed to face since independence.”

(Additional reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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