Sri Lanka’s hospitals running empty due to the crisis

Colombo, July 26 : Sri Lanka’s National Hospital of Sri Lanka, the country’s largest hospital, is all but empty of patients and doctors being prevented from even arriving for their shifts, as the country’s political and economic turmoil takes hold of the country’s health sector, it was reported here on Tuesday.

The unprecedented economic crisis has dealt a severe blow to a free and universal healthcare system that just months earlier was the envy of the Sri Lanka’s South Asian neighbours.

At the moment the country is running short of various essential commodities, including medicines making life all the more difficult for the patients suffering from light to severe ailments.

Though the National Hospital normally caters to people in need of specialised treatment all over the island nation, it is at the moment running with reduced staff, and many of its 3,400 beds lie unused. Supplies of surgeical equipment and life-saving drugs have been almost exhausted, while chronic petrol shortages have left both patients and doctors unable to travel for treatment.

Sri Lanka imports 85 per cent of its medicines and medical equipment, along with raw materials, to manufacture the remaining share of its needs. However, the country is now bankrupt, and a lack of foreign currency has left it unable to source enough petrol to keep the economy moving, and enough pharmaceuticals to treat the sick.

“Normal painkillers, antibiotics and paediatric medicines are in extremely short supply. Other medicines have become up to four times expensive in the last three months,” a pharmacy owner said, adding that many of them had to reject three in every 10 prescriptions because they lacked the means to fill them.


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