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Heart diseases leading killer

Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne says heart diseases account for the most number of deaths in Sri Lanka.

Dr Senaratne said the government had put in place a mechanism to minimize the incidence of heart diseases.

The Ministry of Health spends as much as Rs. 85 billion of its budget to provide free services for intervention, surgical and medical management of cardiac patients.

Dr Senaratne said research had identified a wide range of risk factors that could lead to heart attacks. Identifying some of them, he said lack of physical activity, unhealthy diet, high blood pressure (HBP), high cholesterol, overweight and smoking were among them.

Managing those risk factors would improve the health of Sri Lankans and help reduce the burden on the country’s economy. The Government’s efforts to battle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) include the setting up of healthy lifestyle centres, introduction of a colour light system to control sugar, salt and trans-fats, in food items, and the imposition of restrictions on tobacco and alcohol marketing, the Minister said.

Dr. Senaratne said cardiology services were available in all major hospitals in the country as consultant cardiologists had been appointed to not only all tertiary care units but also all provincial and district general hospitals. The Ministry was now in the process of providing them with adequate equipment, Senaratne said. It had also established a Cardiac Catheterisation Laboratory (CCL) in every Province of the country, thereby helping minimize the expenses incurred by patients and reducing the period they would have to wait for their surgeries.

Dr. Senaratne said the Health Ministry was also in the process of revising the procurement procedures to ensure a continuous supply of stents, balloons and catheters to ensure smooth running of the newly setup chain of Cath labs. The Minister said he also wished to upgrade the national cardiology unit of the Colombo National Hospital to a state-of-the-art regional centre of excellence so that heart patients would benefit from the expertise of qualified cardiologists.

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