Dr. Varatharajah Reports from Vanni Feb. 27, 2009

Video clips by Dr. Varatharajah Thurairajah on the situation at Puthu Matalan Hospital in the Vanni, Sri Lanka, while the area was under attack by Sri Lankan security forces, February 27, 2009

Translation provided where after each clip.


Amputee: 0:04  It is the pain. Otherwise it alright.

Dr.V. They are coming from that end.

Amp: Oh Military is coming?

Man: Did they talk?


Title: Dr. Varatharajan (Tamil version may be wrong. If it is Varatharaja.)

Dr. V. This is the Maaththalan hospital. This place (hospital) came from Mullaitivu (Town) to Puthukudieruppu and came here one month back. This is the only functioning hospital with ward facilities (School rooms converted) – Theatre, Pediatric and Maternity ward also. There are some other OPD (out Patient Dispensary) hospital also.

00:25: Here in this hospital we are facing big problems. We have lots of problems in the wards. This is a school that is not functioning. This and other school blocks are also not finished the work. There are main problems in the actual wards.


Dr. V: We have not enough wards. We have to put some extra temporary wards; maternity ward, pediatric ward as well as the (Operating) Theatre. We are dong theatre work in one of the school rooms temporarily in un-safe conditions. There are no cleaning items or materials (no antiseptic cleaning agents).

0:40. Second problem is toilets. We have only two toilets. We are treating more than 400 patients daily. We are doing 200 surgeries in the Theatre daily. And several, Primary, secondary, suturing and amputation.  We have only two toilets with minimum water supply.  We have no proper water supply.  We can send patients to Trincomalee or Vavuniya but the problem is transport.  The main road is always closed.

01:06 Now we are sending patients by ICRC ship.  To Trincomalee. We sent (the Patients) five times. Tomorrow also we can send 400 patients for major management (Treatment).


Here, the main the problem nowadays we face is drugs. Drugs mean, we have no surgical anaesthetic items. No surgical materials, no IV (Intra-venus fluid) normal saline,  cardnum (?) lactose (?). there are no stock. And antibiotic also.

00:19.    We are going to do surgery  but we are have no anaesthetic. So we cant do surgery. But when we are doing surgery like, lobotomy, amputation we have to give some IV fluid, normal saline Carmon (?), but we have no IV fluids. Third one is the IV antibiotic, injection antibiotic, that is mainly we need penicillin, amppicillin for the ward room patients but we have no antibiotic. We informed our superior, Northern Province Health Services, Director  and …


 co-ordinator, and Secretary Health also. Still impossible to get medicines to Mullaitivu. Last week we received some OPD medicines and clinical drugs by ICRC ships. That is very small amounts. We cant treat the patient with that, only (enough for) one-day drugs.

0.27.  Still we face other problem of communicable diseases. There are more than 4 laks (400,000) people here in the small Safe Area. The safe area is already a remote area. There are no water supply. No proper toilet facilities. More than 400,000 people living here. They are now staying in coastal area, paddy fields and even in Cemetry area they are staying.  The gap between two shelters there is one or two feet. The people are facing these problem (counting in fingers) toilet facilities , water supply, food, transport (to and from hospital etc),

01:10 There are also shell falling daily. Today also some shells fell in the safe zone. We are getting (go) more than 80 casualties here. More than 10 dead bodies also we have received. Everyday we are getting 75 casualties and around 10 dead bodies.  Now…


…without antibiotics and proper treatment 9 children dea and 7 adults also dead plus for maternal (pregnant woman) dead also. One maternal death due to septocemia, three maternal death due to shell blast injury.

0:21. The communicable disease is quickly spreading. Chickenpox, diareah, lower respiratory infection. Very quickly spreading. In the maternity ward also there are four chickenpox patients.  Children are also affected. Hospital staff also affected by chickenpox and diahrea.

0:41 You can see we have big problem in the hospital. We have no cleaning facilities, no water supply no proper toilets.  I can show you. There are big problem you can see.

00:48. (outside) This is one of the toilets. Made three days before. Temporary toilet. It is broken. Inside flies here and there and hospital people can also get diahrea and everything here.  We are ….


 Dr. v.  We temporarily put two wards here, One shelter there. With the minimum facilities.  You can see this is our main surgical ward.  We have floor (Cement), no roof (Proper). No side wall. We are  just keeping the patients with (on) the mat.  We have no bed, mattress nothing.  We just put the mat and they are sleeping there and we are treating them.


 0:28: Not a surgical ward. This also we have no proper facilities. We put a shelter  and no other facilities .  We put the patient on the floor and treating.

00:44. One of our nurse.  We don’t  We are displaced seven times. We are unable to bring our clothes, our materials. We are (just) came like IDPs.  Our nurses also don’t have any uniforms and we are just coming like the people and doing the treatment.

1:19 Here we have transfused the blood for several people, because of heavy bleeding due to shell blast (injury).  Most of the people we brought from 5 to 6 km from the civilian areas. They were brought to the hospital. Because of that, there is heavy bleeding due (during) the transport.  Transport is also big problem because of the traffic. All people moving here and there. Because of the delay, bleeding of the patient is very high, so we have to transfuse the blood. Unfortunately we don’t have any blood bag.


We have 10 or 15 blood bags.


Dr. VPeople also not willing to give blood donation. Because their main worries is they don’t have any food items. They also feel that they are going to get injuries after one or two days.  So that most of the people don’t like to give blood donation. Some relations are giving blood for them.

00:26. This is our … this is one of our nursing officer.  We don’t have any trolley system. Normally in the hospital we have trolley system. When we give injection we take the trolley. Here they give the injection taken from the equipment tray.


00:07  (see the flies next to the toes.)

00:25. Dr. V. This in one of the burnt patients (in the net).  They are to be transported tomorrow to Trincomalee.


00:11. Dr.V.  (Bending down to the pregnant patient.)  Ammah.  Come here child (calling for the nurses). Whoever is staying there . Is there no nurses. Come here. You all come here.

00:36. The pregnant mother on the lap of her son. Dr. V. Come here children.  Come here children to lift her.


NO VOICE. (The pregnant woman is taken to the treatment room)


Someone. Here. Mangai Akka.  Bring Anpu akka.

Dr. V. Is there no Attenia (?) Get the GT, Get the GT.  Get the GT.


Dr. V. Get, get, get soon.  Give now.

Someone: Brother, what happened?

Son: Pressure.

Dr. V.: Get the Ambin (?) Get an Attenia (?) from the Theatre.

Son: Athan, Athan (Brother in Law). Come here. Athan.

Dr. V.: Let her down, let her down.  Put the Aiyan, aiyan (?).


0:32. This is the IC room (Intensive Care). But we don not have any IC beds, IC facilities, cardiac monitor, Glucometer nothing. We can’t do any investigation here; We don’t have any laboratory facility. We cannot check any blood infection or blood test, urine test or any test we can’t do here. With the patient we can treat blindly.


0:01. Dr. V. You can see that there is a lot of IC patients. They are all IC patients. Emergency patients. We don’t have any facility here.  We don’t have any drugs also. Several we informed the government, but government not willing to send any. They have always rejected and not willing to send here.  Yesterday also I spoke at the Ministry (Health) level, but they don’t like to send medicine here.


00:27. Man: Sir he needs blood.

00:36. Dr. V. This is our Theatre (Operating Theatre). This is not a proper theatre. This one of the ….


00:01. Dr. V. Before yesterday without anesthetic there were four dead. Here also we need long lasting anesthetic agent like, hitamine (?) and other surgical items without those items we are not doing lot of surgery. Today also a lot of patients came, but we are doing only local small small wound like that. The major surgery we can’t do here.

00.47: We are as I told you big shortage. No medicine, No proper medicine. We inform govt as well as international people also. We inform ICRC, UN, and some other NGOs. Several times we informed. I think they tried to send some medicine and food items here, but this is impossible because I spoke to the ICRC and they told the problem is with the MOD (Ministry of Defence) clearance. They (MOD) rejected the clearance. They are the government people, the army people, they (ICRC) is not allowed to bring medicine here. The ICRC people are coming here minimum twice a week.


Dr, V, and bring the medicine here. But they have no any authority to bring medicine here because the government will not allow to bring.  Still, yesterday also we discussed with them.

oo.41. Man: Get up sir.  There will be a doctor and you show him. Don’t run around. Sit in one place.

1:07: Dr. V.  Without proper space, we are receiving the casualties ; we are keeping here. You can see there are no proper facility. We are hanging the saline one or two in the branch of the tree.


00:21. Dr. V: This is our admission ward without any facilities.


(All in Tamil)

00:01 Man: Take her in.  Go there, go there.

Girl: Brother move.

Man: Come there please,  come there.  Come here brother. Get hold.  Lift the leg.  Brother careful.

















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