Posted on July 15th, 2018

Editorial Monday 16th July, 2018 Courtesy The Island

Doctors have threatened to stop performing heart surgeries, at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital (KTH), owing to a defect in the airconditioning system, as we reported the other day. An intensive care unit has been seriously affected by the defective AC plant, with patients dying of infections.

The critical importance of post-surgical care cannot be overemphasised. Why Dr. Namal Gamage, a respected cardiothoracic surgeon, and his team have decided to stop heart surgeries, unless the airconditioning problem is sorted out, is understandable. Patients’s lives must not be endangered by keeping them in an infected ICU.

The yahapalana government has launched an ambitious development drive, obviously, in view of the next elections, having suffered a crushing electoral defeat a few moons ago. It claims that it has funds for that purpose while squeezing the hapless public dry by means of the newly passed draconian tax laws, which have not spared even the savings accounts of children and senior citizens.

How can a government which is not capable of fixing at least an airconditioner in a cardiac ICU of a vital hospital expect the public to take its much-advertised development programme seriously? Before trying to bribe the public with their own money by way of a politically motivated development drive, shouldn’t the government get its priorities right and take action to save the lives of needy people like the heart patients at the KTH?

What if the airconditioning system at Parliament develops a fault? It will be fixed in next to no time and, perhaps, the maintenance staff interdicted. Besides, billions of rupees have been allocated, since the 2015 regime change, for buying the whole bunch of useless ministers luxury vehicles and repairing their official residences. The government has also spent millions of rupees as rent on a building which was not used. The yahapalana leaders during their presidential and parliamentary election campaigns vowed to curtail wasteful state expenditure and corruption and use the funds so saved to grant relief to the public and develop the country. But, the country has come to such a pass that heart patients are dying due to lack of proper airconditioning, with their woeful appeals falling on the stony deaf ears of the yahapalana leaders.

It is being claimed in some quarters that the delay in fixing the KTH airconditioner is due to bureaucratic red tape, which is the bane of the public service. Why is it that such problems are conspicuous by their absence when it comes to feathering politicians’ nests? There are no delays in repairing the President’s House, Temple Trees and the Opposition Leader’s official residence? Why can’t the government act so efficiently in effecting repairs to the state-run hospitals as well?

Surely, the government is capable of cutting through the bureaucratic red tape if it chooses to, as we have seen on several occasions. President Maithripala usually issues executive orders, in disaster situations, that rules and regulations be disregarded in providing relief to victims expeditiously. He has had to do so because state officials are notorious for dragging their feet on virtually anything, trotting out various excuses. (However, the presidential orders, at issue, usually do not yield the desired results. The victims of the Salawa armoury blast and the Meethotamulla landfill collapse are still demanding compensation.) Either the President or the Prime Minister or the Health Minister should make an intervention for the sake of the patients waiting to undergo heart surgeries at the KTH.

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