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State health sector: Lack of service agreements affect broken CT scanners?

State health sector: Lack of service agreements affect broken CT scanners?

18 Jun 2023 | By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

  • Only 10 out of 25 machines operational

Nearly half of the CT scan machines in State hospitals have been dysfunctional for weeks, with medical specialists alleging that the Health Ministry’s failure to secure service agreements with suppliers on time has caused a valuable medical assessment tool to become unavailable for the public health system.

Out of around 25 CT scan machines in the State sector, only 10 are currently functioning, it is learnt.

According to All Ceylon Medical Officers’ Association (ACMOA) Secretary Dr. Jayantha Bandara, the Health Ministry is yet to make payments worth millions of rupees in a timely manner to suppliers and servicing agents in order to renew the costly service agreements.

“Ideally, there should be at least eight CT scan machines per one million of the population. In developed countries, there are around 26 CT scan machines per one million of the population,” Dr. Bandara said, adding that Sri Lanka should have at least 100 CT scan machines.

However, at present there were only around 25, out of which only 10 were currently in operation, he said. 

“A CT scan is a must in diagnosing head injuries, but now it has become near impossible to get a CT scan done for such purposes,” he stressed, pointing out that diagnosing head injuries was time-critical with the aid of devices such as CT scan machines to accurately treat cranial injuries.  

According to Dr. Bandara, no CT scan machines are functioning at present in State sector hospitals in the North Western Province. In hospitals with functional CT scan machines, patients have to remain on a long waiting list.

Commenting on the state of MRI scanners in Sri Lanka, Dr. Bandara pointed out that Sri Lanka had only around 10 MRI scanners in the State sector.

He stressed that although machines such as CT and MRI scanners should be brought down to Sri Lanka through the Government’s Biomedical Engineering Services (BES) Division, which should also handle their maintenance, the ministry had now deviated from its initial practice and had started to purchase machines from a local agent of the original company at a high cost.

“When the machine can be directly purchased at around $ 100 million, it comes to the Health Ministry at around $ 400 million. This is a waste of money and a group of middlemen is involved in this and gaining huge profits out of the deals,” Dr. Bandara alleged.

“When the machines are purchased through a third party, there is a service warranty to renew each year but the ministry has not renewed the service warranties due to high cost and therefore the companies have not serviced the machines properly,” he added.

Attempts to contact the Secretary of the Ministry of Health and the Minister of Health regarding the allegations and the status of the service agreements failed.

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