SLA blocking essential medical supplies - MSF

Place: Vanni | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 20000417

Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), the international aid agency said Monday Sri Lankan security forces were preventing it from taking urgently needed medical supplies into the Vanni region. The shortage of essential drugs in the region had become "critical" MSF said in a statement.

MSF, which was awarded with Nobel Peace Prize last year, has been present in Sri Lanka since 1986, giving assistance to the civilian population and victims of the armed conflict.

Currently, MSF is running projects in Jaffna Teaching Hospital, Kyats and Chavakachcheri, Vavuniya, Madhu, Murunkan, Mallavi and Batticaloa.

The full text of the statement follows:

"The emergency medical organisation Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) today called upon the Government of Sri Lanka to allow the re-supply of urgently needed essential medicines to the northern region of the country.

Photo:Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) by:Harrie Timmermans "Over the past three months, drug supplies have become drastically depleted in the war-torn Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts and attempts by humanitarian agencies to renew stocks have been unsuccessful.

"On two occasions within the last week, MSF has been prevented by security forces from transporting drugs and medical supplies through the Forward Defence Lines to Mallavi Hospital in Mullaitivu district. Three months of Government Ministry of Health supplies are also still awaiting approval and transportation into the northern region.

"The shortage of medications has become so critical that patients are being turned away from hospitals and clinics without receiving the necessary treatment," says Isabel Simpson, MSF (Holland) Head of Mission in Sri Lanka.

"We are facing a situation where clinics and hospitals have closed or are no longer accepting patients because they cannot provide treatment for these civilians, many of whom are women and children".

"At Mallavi Hospital, over 800 patients have left the hospital in the past month without receiving any medication. Many of these patients suffer from chronic debilitating diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, cardiac problems and epilepsy.

"Every day without medication increases the risks for complications in their conditions, to seriously deteriorate or even become fatal.

"Essential drugs for the treatment of malaria are also in extremely short supply, as well as basic essential medicines such as Paracetamol, antibiotics and paediatric preparations.

"MSF urges the Government of Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Defence to urgently consider the health status of the civilian population in these districts and expedite the transport of medical supplies into these areas without further delay."