Medi-snippets: Health Ministry to set up gene technology unit | Sunday Observer

Medi-snippets: Health Ministry to set up gene technology unit

The Health Ministry plans to establish a gene technology unit to enhance treatment for communicable and non communicable diseases, the Ministry sources have said.

According to the sources, Health Minister Dr Rajitha Seneratne has reportedly promised he would include the project at the next budget informing that the technology was already in use in the US. He was quoted as saying that a Cabinet proposal would be submitted to construct a modern lab with high tech medical equipment to that end, at a cost of Rs 482 million. According to the Ministry, there are five gene technology labs in Sri Lanka at present and the seven doctors employed by the Health Ministry in the field of gene technology would receive special training in the US. Gene technology is currently used to produce drugs to treat various genetic diseases . Ministry sources said, the technology can be used for early detection and better management of cancer, and also to produce drugs for diseases like thalassaemia and haemophilia, besides cutting costs of medical treatment.

Ministry orders probe on N’Éliya eye vaccine incident

Health Minister Dr Rajitha Seneratne has instructed Health Services Director General Dr Anil Jasinghe to hold an inquiry into the incident where at least 17 patients who sought treatment for eye related conditions at the Nuwara Eliya General hospital suffered partial and some complete vision loss after a drug was administered to them via an injection. Dr Jasinghe has been reported to have instructed the Nuwara Eliya General hospital to withdraw the batch of medicine in question and temporarily halt treatment with the questionable injections. Nuwara Eliya General Hospital Director Dr Anura Jayasekera was quoted as saying that samples of the drug from the batch in question had been sent to the National Quality Assurance Laboratory drug testing unit at the Health Ministry, for investigation.

Mosquito Control Week

The onset of heavy rains followed by short bursts of sunshine, has raised alarm bells for an outbreak of dengue. A Mosquito Eradication Week was thus underway , ending today, ( October 7.) Health Ministry sources said, 175 Divisional Secretariats islandwide were being covered under the project, with focus on districts and areas with the most number of mosquito breeding sites. The Dengue Control Unit has urged the public to spend at least 30 minutes each day to clear their gardens of all mosquito attracting receptacles and plastics. Public Health officials as well as the Tri forces have joined in the effort and PHIs are now authorised to enter houses to conduct sudden inspections. “Those with breeding sites will be given a red notice and a short period to clean up their premises and those who have no breeding sites will be rewarded with a green card. Offenders who refuse to cooperate can face a steep fine or even a jail sentence”, an unnamed source told the Sunday Observer.

The Western Province reportedly has the highest number of mosquito breeding sites ( 7,391 cases in Colombo district) with the Colombo Municipal area having the highest due to its density of population and proliferation of shanties. Colombo Municipal Council sources said, they had identified Wellawatte, Narahenpitiya, Bambalapitiya, Baseline Road and Kotahena as some of the areas that will be given special attention. Schools and educational institutions as well as government buildings, temples and markets will be encouraged to keep their premises clean. Ït will be an on going campaign until every district becomes a zero risk district”, the sources said.

Dengue cases plunge

Dengue cases have dropped sharply compared to the numbers two months ago, (over 70% according to sources) due to intervention by the Health Ministry. However, the threat of another dengue outbreak remains, Health officials said. A total of 13 divisions continue to show over 1,500 suspected cases since January this year, according to Epidemiology reports. Informed sources have been quoted as saying, a total of 44 deaths from the 38,565 cases have been reported islandwide this year. Health officials have thus sought the cooperation of the public warning that the present weather conditions could lead to a proliferation of mosquito larvae. “A mosquito only needs a drop of water to lay its eggs. Protect your family and yourself from dengue by ensuring that your premises are free of plastics and small containers that attract the dengue carrying vector”, Dengue Control sources have urged. Medical experts have advised the public to seek treatment without delay for any type of fever without applying home remedies, and refrain from going to work or school. All fever patients have been advised to take only paracetmol and avoid other medications , especially, Non Steroidal Anti-Inflamatory Drugs ( NSAID) such as, Ibuprofen which could cause complications leading to Dengue Haemorrhatic Fever ( DJF0).

WB supports Primary health services promotion

The World Bank has granted Rs 200 million for five years to develop and promote the Primary health sector in Sri Lanka, World Bank Representative in Sri Lanka Dr Deepika Attgala reportedly said at a ceremony to inaugurate an on line training course on Primary Health Service Conservation, at Wadduwa recently. The ceremony was attended by medical officers and physicians of government hospitals and provincial and regional health services.

Meanwhile, the government has also allocated the highest budget for Health ( Rs 185 billion) according to the Appropriation Bill gazetted last week.

NMRA partners with ICTA to ensure quality services

The National Medicines Regulatory Authority ( NMRA) of Sri Lanka recently signed an agreement with the tech giant Epic Technology Group supported by the Information & Communication Technology Agency ( ICTA) of Sri Lanka to develop a Document and Workflow Management system that would digitally transform its current processes and streamline its operations and services.

NMRA is the institution in which the Ministry of Health has vested the authority to ensure that the pharmaceuticals, medical devices and borderline products availability to the public , meet the required standards of quality , and are within the existing legislative framework with respect to production, marketing and dispensing of these items. The NMRA Chairman Prof. Asitha De Silva has been quoted as saying, the current manual systems were archaic and inefficient and that the new system, expected to be in place by the end of November 2018, will manage document and workflow processing. Additionally, a comprehensive accounting module including an electronic payment gate way will also be integrated with the proposed system, informed sources were quoted as saying.

Indigenous medicine confab in Trinco

The Eastern Province Indigenous Dept. and Trincomalee Campus Siddha Medical Unit of the Eastern University of Sri Lanka held an international conference and exhibition at the Cultural Hall Trincomalee . The conference, was attended by senior health officials including the Health Minister with over 30 Malaysian and Indian researchers participating, and more than 80 indigenous medical researchers delivering research papers.

Raising funds for cancer

A musical fund raiser Pink Ribbons on behalf of cancer victims will be held at the Sri Lanka Tourist Board Auditorium , Colombo 3 on October 14. The funds will go towards numerous programmes of ‘Mithuruwela’, a cancer support network initiated by cancer survivor Prof Rhyana Raheem, to befriend, support and help cancer patients and their care givers and also supports a cancer transit home for outpatients at the NCI sponsored by the CCC Foundation.