Doctors of the Karapitiya Hospital said yesterday warned that influenza that had blighted much of the the Southern Province could spread to other parts of the country unless steps are taken to contain it.
Dr. Janith Liyanage head of the GMOA Karapitiya Hospital branch said that this would lead to a lack of specialists, medical equipment and bed space at Intensive Care Units across the country, putting a severe strain on the medical service.
Dr. Liyanage further stated, “Only the Karapitiya hospital has an Intensive Care Unit for children in the Southern Province, and even this unit has only seven beds. More beds can be placed on the upper floor of the building to accommodate more patients but the government has to urgently look into this need and take action. The ICU is fully occupied by influenza patients at present. This means there is no room to treat children suffering from illnesses such as cancer, kidney ailments and heart related ailments. There are only four ICU's for children in the entire country, which is a big problem. It takes about 12 hours to clean out a bed after a patient gets discharged in order to get it ready for another. Additionally there are only two specialist doctors for the childen's ICU at the Karapitiya hospital. There are only ten such doctors in the country.
Due to the hospital overflowing with influenza patients there is no way to admit patients who need urgent medical attention for other ailments, he complained, adding that while influenza has now escalated to epidemic proportions the authorities are strangely silent on this aspect.”
Joint Secretary of the GMOA branch Dr. Kanchitha Samararatne said that it was wrong to presume that the disease had been contained merely because of a drop in the number of patients being admitted. "The media has dealt with the spread of the disease extensively.
However, there are pluses and minuses involved in it. One of the bad ones is that people are now resorting to getting themselves admitted to private hospitals as a result of government hospitals getting full because of the panic that has set in. All the private hospitals in the Galle District are full today. This disease is contagious and spreads by coming into contact with the secretions of patients. It is important to stop too many visitors to see these patients. Those who do visit a patient should be extremely careful to take precautions such as covering one's face with a face mask or a handkerchief in order to minimise the risk of contracting the disease," he advised.(Sirangika Loku Karawita, Premathilake de Silva and D.G.Sugathapala)