Minister sitting on National Medicinal Drugs Policy: GMOA
By Sandun A Jayasekera
The non-adherence to instructions by the medical team when administering the Rubella vaccine at the Matara St. Thomas` Girls High School on Thursday was what caused the death of one student and the hospitalisation of 27 others, a health department inquiry has revealed.
The preliminary investigation conducted by Health Services Deputy Director General Dr. P.G. Mahipala had found the vaccine was administered by an assistant medical practitioner who was not authorized to do so.
The Emergency Medical Trolley required to deal with any medical emergency was not available when the immunization programme was underway.
Ministry spokesman W.M.D. Wanninayaka said a two-member WHO team comprising immunization and vaccination specialists Dr. Madhav Ram and Dr. Stephen Guichard arrived on Sunday and met Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva yesterday prior to their clinical investigation into the incident.
The Ministry will take action after the two specialists submit their report in two days time. Minister De Silva has already declared that strict disciplinary action on a departmental level and the criminal code procedure will be taken against any one found responsible without considering status or position, Mr. Wanninayaka said.
He said the Health Ministry would study both reports before taking action with the focus being to find out whether there has been any medical negligence or administrative lapses on the part of Matara MOH office and the medical team when carrying out the rubella immunization programme.
Meanwhile the GMOA charged that the Health Services Director General should take the responsibility for the tragedy as there was a clear case of administrative breakdown at the Matara MOH office and in case the vaccine used was sub-standard.
The Matara MOH office had only one fully qualified doctor while all others in the staff were AMPS, RMPS and PHIs.
GMOA acting General Secretary Dr. Upul Gunasekara told the media that on this particular day the MOH had to visit three clinics and that was why she could not attend the rubella immunization programme at the Matara School.
We can`t say what caused the cause or who is responsible for this particular incident. But what we can definitely say is that the DDG, his officials, the Health Ministry drug policy and the health administration are responsible for this catastrophe, Dr. Gunasekara said.
He blamed the Minister and his top officials for sitting on the National Medicinal Drugs Policy despite President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s instructions to implement the NMDP based on Prof. Senaka Bibile`s essential medicine`s concept. In Sri Lanka there is no clear cut policy on drug imports, distribution or purchase. There is no proper quality assurance programme for drugs imported to the country and there is no drug information centre which is essential, Dr. Gunasekara said.
GMOA assistant secretary Dr. Chandana Atapattu said millions of rupees worth of drugs were destroyed annually as some of the drugs imported were of low quality.
The other danger is that when low quality drugs imported by the SPC are withdrawn from state hospitals, there is no assurance they will not ended up at private pharmacies. In such a case any thing can happen any time. It can be medical negligence, administrative lapses or any thing else, Dr Atapattu emphasized.
Dr. P. Udangama, Dr. Bimantha Gunasekara and Dr. D. Ubesiri also participated in the media briefing.
Four more hospitalized
By Krishan Jeewaka Jayaruk
Four more school children allegedly victims of the Rubella vaccination were taken ill and admitted to the Matara hospital yesterday.
A hospital spokesman said two students from the Matara St. Thomas`s Girls
Four more hospitalized
School were admitted to hospital while one student each from Diyagaha West Maha Vidayala and Handugala Maha Vidyalaya, Walasmulla were also hospitalized. However, Hospital Director Dr. Aruna Jayasekara said the students were out of danger.
He said several other students from St.Thomas`s College were still in hospital in fear of any further complications.