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Ambulance service suspended in Mullaitivu for over 3 months leaving patients in peril

(Two Suwa Seriya 1990 ambulances stationed outside the Mankulam Police Station) 

The Suwa Seriya 1990 free ambulance service, which has been a lifeline across the island, has been suspended in Mankulam for three months, leaving residents in dire situations during emergencies.

The ambulance stationed at Mankulam Police Station caters to residents in Pandiyakulam, Mallavi, Kottayam Kulam, Ambalaperumalkulam, Ambagam, Indupuram, and Vasanthapuram. The suspension has left these communities grappling with multiple challenges, including the absence of private vehicles, the unavailability of public transport, and the financial strain of hiring vehicles to transport the sick or injured to hospitals. Residents from areas like Nattangandal report spending up to LKR 3000 on three-wheelers to reach the nearest hospital.

As a result, there is a mounting demand for the immediate resumption of this vital service. Residents are urging concerned parties to address the issue promptly and resolve any underlying issues preventing the service from being reinstated.

The community has emphasised the urgency of restoring the Suwa Seriya 1990 ambulance service to ensure the safety and well-being of residents in Mullaitivu and surrounding areas.

The Ceylon Today in an article published this week quoting a senior official at Suwa Seriya stated that the migration of nurses drivers and paramedics has resulted in a shortage of staff, forcing the service to go off the grid in several districts. An official is quoted as saying that there is a shortage of over 800 personnel at the 1990 Suwa Seriya Foundation, with over 350 vacancies specifically for drivers.  

He added that Suwa Seriya is currently facing a huge crisis due to the difficulty of running an efficient operation without continuous reimbursement of expenses. The official said the government should reimburse the recurrent expenses incurred for the operations of the Suwa Seriya Foundation, but already LKR 330 million was not reimbursed as of 1 January 2022. He further said that it has become difficult to maintain the Suwa Seriya ambulance service, which has been maintained by the government budget. “If the government does not pay attention to this, the Suwa Seriya service will have to be stopped completely,” he continued 

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament Harsha de Silva took to X (Twitter) to confirm that out of 297 locations, 41 of them are offline.

Last year, the Sri Lankan government put out a newspaper advertisement calling on donors and investors to adopt an ambulance so that the service can be continued. The advertisement published in the local newspapers called on donors to sponsor an ambulance to the tune of LKR 5 million each. “Due to the current economic situation, the Treasury is unable to fully fund its operations, which may lead to the service being unsustainable in 2023,” the advertisement in the Daily Financial Times read.

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