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About 375 specialist docs have left SL in 12 months

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By Shiran Ranasinghe

Work in most hospitals have been severely affected by the migration of over 375 specialist doctors and thousands of healthcare staff, and drug shortages, doctors claim.About 50 per cent of doctors who are abroad to receive higher medical training to become specialists have informed that they have no intention of returning to the country.

So far, the hospitals in Kilinochchi, Anuradhapura, Tangalle, Hambantota, Mullaitivu and Dehiattakandiya are the worst affected and many clinics and other facilities provided by these hospitals have come to a standstill.

Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) media spokesman Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe said that some hospitals would have to be closed down. About 1000-1500 doctors had left the country and no one had any idea about the number of nurses and other health staff who have left the country, he said

“This is a sad state of affairs and there are several reasons why health staff are leaving the country. One is the high taxes and another is the political and economic instability. They are also stressed out because they can’t treat patients due to medical shortages. Most of the doctors spend their day calling people and cajoling philanthropists to help them secure medicine for their hospitals,” he said.

Meanwhile, one of the two catheterisation machines of the Kandy hospital has broken down, placing the lives of some of the 8024 patients who are in the waiting list in jeopardy.

Head of the government radiologist union, Chanaka Dharmaratne said those machines were vital to treat heart patients. “One machine at the Kandy General Hospital is out of order while the other needs immediate servicing. These are important and expensive pieces of equipment that are vital in treating and identifying heart ailments,” he said.

A private hospital will charge about 100,000 rupees for the use of catheterisation machines and about one million rupees to introduce a stent, he said.Dharmaratne said that there are many drug and equipment shortages in the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children too.

Gampaha General Hospital Director, Dr. Himali Wijegunasekera said that they rely heavily on philanthropists to deal with the severe drug shortage in hospitals. She added that frequently needed drugs to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are in short supply as well. Doctors at the hospital had given a list of drugs that are in short supply to the hospital development authority to circulate among philanthropists.

 said they were planning to set up five paying wards at the hospital. There were about 2,400 medical specialists in the country. 285 were to retire soon after turning 65 and around 375 had left the country in the past 12 months, she said said.

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