Since the end of Sri Lanka’s 30 year civil conflict in May 2009, Sri Lanka’s health sector has performed commendably by receiving WHO status in the elimination of certain diseases as well as offering a free health care system to all.
In fact, when compared to other countries in the region, Sri Lanka’s health care system is quite advanced but the sector indeed has suffered a blow within these past four and a half year under the adhoc rule of the UNF government.
A sizable majority of Sri Lankans today depend on Sri Lanka’s free health care system and that is why before 2015, the previous Rajapaksa government entered into agreements with foreign countries to construct state of the art hospitals in remote areas. Infact today, in Hambantota alone, there has been a mega state of the art hospital opened, which was initiated by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa before 2015 but was only opened by the former UNF government in July 2019 after a wide public outcry.
In these recent weeks, following the victory of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the Nov.16 Presidential Elections, I have been travelling to many remote areas across the country listening to the hardships of the citizens as well as speaking about the vision of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Infact one area which I have been closely working on is my own constituency of Hambantota.
Within these past four years, I have received several complaints from the residents in the area of the neglected and failing health system. Which is why this prompted me to request
Hon. Minister of Health, Pavithra Wanniarachchi to visit Hambantota on Thursday, where we undertook a tour of the health departments as well as the Hambantota and Weeraketiya Hospitals which was shockingly in a neglected state.
While there, I was shocked to realize that there was a massive shortage of infrastructure development as well as a severe demand for doctors, nurses and minor staff. While patients were in numbers, the shortage of staff made daily functions difficult which led to a gross neglect in the functions of each department.
There were other serious issues as well. The hospitals faced a severe shortage of essential drugs, such as that for thalessemia as well as a shortage of drugs to treat kidney diseases.
I have discussed in detailed with Hon.Minister Wanniarachchi of the necessity to construct a separate hospital to treat thalassemia patients in Sri Lanka as well as the need to take urgent steps to ensure that there is a free availability of drugs to treat such patients. A big complaint which patients discussed with us, during our tour was that there was always a shortage of drugs to treat thalassemia and this is a cause for concern as annually, according to medical surveys, around 300,000 babies are born worldwide with serious hemoglobin disorders, thalassemia and sickle cell disease. This needs our serious attention.
Also there are urgent policy decisions which need to be taken by the government which should enable to hand over more power to the district hospitals and regional hospitals so that they can take decisions to develop infrastructure as well as recruit more staff. This will ensure smooth operations in the hospitals as well to ensure a better health care system for all. I discussed this in detail with Hon.Minister Wanniarachchi who agreed that these changes are extremely vital for the better operations of our district hospitals.
It is most unfortunate that when irresponsible governments are in power, vital sectors take a blow in their terms. For the past four years, there was much neglect and power struggles, but now to ensure that sectors revive, the new government will ensure that all shortages are fulfilled. The health sector especially in all remote areas will be well looked after to ensure citizens receive a smooth and efficient medical treatment as well as an efficient free health care system.
Sri Lanka has been plagued with shortage of essential drugs under the previous UNF government as well as the lack of staff and doctors. Despite many complaints by the residents and patients in the area, these were ignored by the former health minister and his team, who were in fact more busy preparing people to fabricate false allegations against the SLPP and the Rajapaksas.
Health is a sector which will not be compromised under our government. Infact I am much obliged to Hon.Minister Wanniarachchi for undertaking the tour with me on Thursday to see first hand of the struggles and shortages facing the health sector in Hambantota.
In his election campaigns, President Rajapaksa vowed to make a change and this time, all members of the SLPP along with the government will ensure to make a difference. I will personally look into the upgrading and the development of the health sector in areas such as Hambantota and will be in touch with the Health departments to ensure that citizens get their basic medical needs fulfilled.
Change has come upon Sri Lanka and I invite you all to join me to make a difference.