SLMA wants priority for those with chronic diseases

  • Says majority deaths among diabetics, HBP patients

BY Pamodi Waravita

The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) yesterday (20) called for the prioritisation of those suffering from chronic diseases in the Covid-19 vaccination process.

SLMA Vice President and National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) Consultant Endocrinologist Dr. Manilka Sumanatilleke noted: “From the approximately 3,000 deaths that have taken place within the past one-and-a-half years, about 54.9% were diabetic patients and 51% were patients with high blood pressure (HBP). A total of 84% of those who died were over the age of 60 years. To reduce the number of deaths that are occurring as a result of Covid-19, it is important that while patients with chronic diseases themselves take better precautions, they must also be prioritised in the vaccination drive.”

Dr. Sumanatilleke requested the Government to, therefore, prioritise those high-risk patients for the Covid-19 vaccines and said that it is easier to administer the vaccines for those patients when they come to their regular health clinics at the hospitals.

“Patients who are over the age of 60 or those who are over the age of 30 and have chronic diseases should be administered the Covid-19 vaccines at their clinics, so that they are prioritised. Some vaccine types such as Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca give a higher immunity from just the first dose. Those vaccines must be prioritised for high-risk patients so that the number of deaths can be easily reduced.”

According to Dr. Sumanatilleke, the country is currently in a “transition period” where the country is increasing the resistance in the fight against the disease by rapidly vaccinating the population, while the virus is also increasing its fight with new variants, including the highly contagious Indian Delta (B.1.617.2) variant which has already recorded 43 infections as of 15 July, according to the health authorities.

As of 19 July, Sri Lanka has vaccinated 5,876,281 people with the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.