President issues directives to control spread of meningitis

[October 28, 2005 - 4.00 GMT]

The Committee appointed by President Chandrika Kumaratunga to inquire into the meningitis deaths at the De Zoysa Maternity and Castle Street Hospital and certain other hospitals has submitted its report. The President agreed with the findings and has directed Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva to immediately implement all the recommendations of the Committee.

The Committee said in its report, the outbreak of Meningitis was due to contaminated syringes.

The findings;

  • The source of contamination appeared diverse and the committee was not possible to identify the source of contamination.
  • The syringes had been drawn from ‘lots’ supplied by different manufacturers, some of them from packages brought in as tsunami assistance.
  • Contamination could have occurred at the manufacturer’s end, at the different locations of storage such as port warehouses, Medical Supplies Unit and other storage points or during transport.
  • There was no sample testing on delivery of these items to main and other stores.


  • All stocks from which these infected syringes were drawn should be discarded.
  • The remaining stocks of syringes and needles should be examined by experts in the field viz SLMA, College of Microbiologists, College of Anaesthetists, College of Physicians, and College of Medical Administrators before they are released to hospitals. 
  • Administration of spinal anaesthesia should be done only with sterile pre-packed spinal anaesthesia sets purchased from internationally reputed sources.
  • Strict adherence to current international standards [WHO/ISO] when calling for tenders.
  • All consignments delivered to the country should be certified with letters of guarantee of quality.
  • Ensure all imported devices checked for sterility.
  • Improve all existing local storage facilities.
  • Ensure adequate buffer stocks at the State Pharmaceutical Corporation are maintained to avoid “emergency” local purchases.
  • Qualified pharmacists should be placed in charge of medical stores.
  • Multi-dose vials of anaesthetic material should not be used.
  • The patients who have contracted meningitis due to contaminated syringes should be treated with the recommended drugs notwithstanding cost.

The Committee has also recommended that substantial compensation be paid to the next of kin of the four deceased patients.

The two members of  Committee of Inquiry were Dr. J. B. Peiris, Senior Consultant Neurologist and Mr. C. G. Wickremesinghe, Senior Advisor to the President.













Contact Information: Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site. 
Last Updated Date: October 28, 2005 - 4.00 GMT


Today's Stories

Sri Lanka sends relief supplies to Islamabad
Norway’s new FM Jonas Gahr Store was interviewed on BBC’s ASIA Today programme by Humphrey Hawksley Broadcast on Thursday 27th Oct
President issues directives to control spread of meningitis