Mahamodera (PBU) to undergo long overdue facelift

The poor have to pay with their lives for ministerial inaction
By Kumudini Hettiarachchi

Mahamodera Hospital’s Premature Baby Unit (PBU) is to undergo a facelift, with the Health Ministry embarking on whatever urgent repairs are needed immediately. This follows a visit by two top health officials after three babies in the unit died of an infection, while a high-level team from the Medical Research Institute which also rushed there, has advised on measures to further strengthen infection control procedures, the Sunday Times learns.

The Health Ministry’s Additional Secretary Dr. Palitha Mahipala and Health Services Director-General Dr. Ajith Mendis visited Mahmaodera after confirmation that the three babies died of an infection. The Klebsiella infection which causes septicaemia, had come with a very ill baby transferred to Mahmaodera from a peripheral hospital, the Sunday Times learns, and then affected the others.

A decision has now been made to separate babies brought from other hospitals from those born at Maha modera itself, a source said, adding that it would help to ascertain whether such babies had an infection and if so, prevent it from spreading among the others.

Mahamodera Hospital being a tertiary-care institution, has very delicate babies including those born prematurely, those who are severely underweight and others with congenital deformities. Therefore, preventing deaths among some of these vulnerable babies is near-impossible because of their condition, a source based in Colombo pointed out.

Meanwhile, the PBU of the Colombo South Teaching Hospital at Kalubowila, which was closed for a week for a thorough clean-up, was opened yesterday, Director Dr. Anil Jasinghe told the Sunday Times.
“Our routine surveillance found an infection, and we closed the unit to strengthen the usual infection control procedure,” he said.

In another incident, Health sources alleged that false stories about the PBU of the Castle Street Hospital for Women had caused serious concern among the humble people who used the services of this premier tertiary-care institution.

“We moved the babies to another section of the PBU with all the necessary facilities and closed the Intensive Care Unit for two days to strengthen the facilities there,” said Castle Street Hospital
Director Dr. Kumar Wickremasinghe. There was no infection at the unit, he added.

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