With reference to the news item titled “Born free, even of a bed” published in the Sunday Times of June 12, 2011, Central Province Health Services Director Dr. Shanthi Samarasinghe has sent the following response.
“I wish to express my disappointment at the negativity predominating and the inaccurate picture your newspaper article has painted of DBH Dambulla. “As one of the two major hospitals of Matale District, DBH Dambulla has undergone many improvements over the past four years. These improvements have further led to an increasing number of people relying on its services, as is evident from the statistics published in our Annual Health Bulletins.
To accommodate these increasing numbers, a master plan has been formulated to improve hospital facilitates in a stage-wise manner. The initial stage of the plan, which included the establishment of a surgical theatre complex, has already been completed. The proposed next stage includes the completion of the maternity complex which would adequately address the issue you have mentioned.
“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that any Secondary Care Hospital (as DBH Dambulla) is established to serve from a central location, so as to cover a considerable drainage area of the population and several primary level hospitals. Therefore, any such hospitals in Sri Lanka undergo difficulties in accommodating the large number of patients, encountered – a problem not restricted to hospitals under the Provincial Councils as indicated in the above article.
“Additionally if you consider DGH Matale, which is the other major hospital within the same district administered for the Provincial Council, you may observe the developments a hospital has undergone under the provincial administration. If adequate funds are made available from the Line Ministry, there would be no issue to expedite the development plan of DBH Dambulla by the Provincial Council and make it on par or even better than DGH Matale.
“The article further indicates that the hospital was to be handed over to the Health Ministry to look into its grievances. However, all the government hospitals are under the purview of the Health Ministry, whether they are locally administered by the Provincial Councils or from Colombo by the Line Ministry and mechanisms are in place to address grievances both at local and at central level. I am sure that you will not disagree with the efficacy of handling most grievances locally rather than by a distant governing body.”
News Editor’s note: Our photographs published along with the news item clearly showed the over crowding in the hospital with two to three pregnant women sharing a bed. The Provincial Director says if adequate funds are made available from the Line Ministry, there would be no issue to expedite the development plan of the hospital. The idea of publishing the pictures and news item was to draw attention of the authorities and not to criticise the efforts of the medical staff in the health sector.