More meningitis cases moved to National Hospital
Five women patients suspected to be suffering from meningitis, after being administered spinal anaesthesia in state hospitals, are at the Institute of Neurology of the Colombo National Hospital, according to Hospital Director Dr. Hector Weerasinghe.

He also said one male patient at the National Hospital too who had undergone spinal anaesthesia for an operation is suspected to be having meningitis.However, the male patient discharged himself on his own accord without permission and has left, Dr. Weerasinghe told The Sunday Times.
“We are not taking any chances and even if patients show slight symptoms of meningitis we are investigating them,” he said.

So far two young mothers have died of meningitis after spinal anaesthesia was administered to them during Caesarean sections at the De Soysa Hospital for Women and the Health Ministry has ordered that all such stocks that had been ordered be taken off the shelf from state hospitals. The post-mortems on the two dead mothers had confirmed that they died of fungal meningitis.

The women patients now being treated for meningitis at the Neurology Institute are from the De Soysa Hospital and Castle Street Hospital for Women and are believed to have contracted the infection from similar procedures.
However, there are fears that the current stocks of syringes and needles being used at the De Soysa Hospital for Women, sent as replacements for those withdrawn are also contaminated.

“Yes, three stocks of syringes have been withdrawn on a Health Ministry circular in view of this crisis but the ones sent as replacements are also contaminated. You can see fungus growing inside the syringes,” Dr. Bimantha Gunasekara, a doctor at the De Soysa Hospital who is also Assistant Secretary of the GMOA, showing a syringe, said. “These syringes are being used everywhere….in the Intensive Care Unit, the operating theatres, the labour rooms and also in the wards not only on mothers but also on newborn babies during vaccinations,” he said.

How did such contaminated stocks enter the system, he asks. “Who was the contractor and who passed the supplies? All stocks should come through the Medical Supplies Division. Weren’t random checks done on the stocks? Should we expose our mothers and babies to low quality stuff? The Health Ministry obviously does not seem to be doing a proper job”, he said.

“What happens to the babies who are motherless because medical supplies were contaminated. Shouldn’t they be paid compensation?” Dr. Gunasekara queried.

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