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Booster doses for docs’ families irk other health workers



By Rathindra Kuruwita

President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS), Ravi Kumudesh yesterday criticised the decision to allocate the remaining 12,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to family members of doctors when there were many others who should be in priority groups who were not vaccinated.

Kumudesh said that Sri Lankans did not make a fuss when most of the AstraZeneca vaccine doses were allocated to the health sector because people understood the importance of protecting people who were likely to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2.

“Now, people are getting angry. At a time when there are many groups that are more vulnerable to the virus and are not inoculated, while the doctors have managed to secure the last doses of the vaccine for their family members and the health ministry has pushed aside other health sector staff from getting a share of the vaccine to their families. This is ugly and people will lose the respect they have for health workers,” he said.

On Monday some relatives of doctors were vaccinated at a doctors’ quarters by people in civilian clothing, the CMLS head said. “This is against the accepted norms of vaccination as there were no officers to officially keep tabs of what’s going on.

“Everyone wants to protect their families but there are segments that are much more exposed. For example, what about teachers? Since shops and food delivery places have been instructed to operate, what about shop owners and staff, food delivery persons and three-wheeler drivers? The priority list is not decided on your education or social status, it’s based on how exposed you are to the people. To be honest, there are some health sector staff that are less exposed to COVID-19 than the groups I mentioned,” Kumudesh said.

The CMLS President added that from the beginning of the vaccination process, the health Ministry created an environment that was conducive to fraud. After frontline staff was vaccinated; the AstraZeneca jab was administered to those over 60 and those in potential hotspots. When residents of hotspots were vaccinated; so-called VIPs, including doctors, managed to sneak in their friends and family to be vaccinated.

“This is how all these family members of doctors had got the first AstraZeneca jab. We have urged the President to look into this. If these family members are residents of hotspots, they can prove it easily. According to Health Ministry guidelines, we have to account for even a Paracetamol that we issue, but now not only does the Health Ministry openly admit that something fraudulent had taken place, it is also encouraging other health sector categories to fight over Sinopahrm quotas. This is ugly and this is something that can affect the reputation of health staff,” he said.



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Haiti police riot after crime gangs kill 14 officers




Protesters attempted to break into the Haitian prime minister's residence (picture BBC)

BBC reported that Rebel police officers rioted in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday following the killing of more than a dozen colleagues by criminal gangs.

The rioting officers blame the government for not taking action.

More than 100 demonstrators blocked streets, burned tyres, broke security cameras and damaged vehicles.

Local media said several officers broke through the gates of the prime minister’s residence and attempted to enter Haiti’s international airport.

Fourteen officers are thought to have died since the start of the year in various gang attacks on police stations.

Seven officers were killed in shootout on Wednesday alone, according to Haiti’s National Police.

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Gold-covered mummy among latest discoveries in Egyptian tomb




One of four newly discovered tombs at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo (picture BBC)

BBC reported that archaeologists say they have found a gold leaf-covered mummy sealed inside a sarcophagus that had not been opened for 4,300 years.

The mummy, the remains of a man named Hekashepes, is thought to be one of the oldest and most complete non-royal corpses ever found in Egypt.

It was discovered down a 15m (50ft) shaft at a burial site south of Cairo, Saqqara, where three other tombs were found.

One tomb belonged to a “secret keeper”.

The largest of the mummies that were unearthed at the ancient necropolis is said to belong to a man called Khnumdjedef – a priest, inspector and supervisor of nobles.

Another belonged to a man called Meri, who was a senior palace official given the title of “secret keeper”, which allowed him to perform special religious rituals.

A judge and writer named Fetek is thought to have been laid to rest in the other tomb, where a collection of what are thought to be the largest statues ever found in the area had been discovered.

Several other items, including pottery, have also been found among the tombs.

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Health crisis: GMOA calls for WHO intervention



Alleging the government has failed to address the developing crisis caused by grave shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has called for WHO’s intervention.In a letter dated January 26, 2023, addressed to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge has raised concerns about shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, escalating prices of medicines and allegations of malpractices and corruption in procurement procedures.

The GMOA has released its letter to the media along with what it called a 10 fold plan formulated by an expert committee set up by the GMOA.

The following are the GMOA’s proposals:

1. To appoint a high-level coordinating committee within the Ministry of Health to ensure effective communications and coordination between following institutions, identified as responsible for the whole exercise. (a) Ministry of Health focal points (b) Medical Supplies Division (MSD) (c) State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) d. State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) e. National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Monthly progress review meetings of aforementioned committees are to be ensured, with Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Health or his representative. Quarterly review with Minister of Health to facilitate arriving at essential policy decisions.

2. To ensure Transparent Procurement Procedures, where every interested citizen should be entitled to know the true facts.

3. To upgrade the available computer software programme to match the current needs and to ensure more efficiency in procurement procedures.

4. To appoint a technical committee to study Auditor General Reports with regard to procurement Procedures of last 5 years and actions to be declared with specific time frame to implement recommendations of the Auditor General.

5. Review the recent Presidential Investigation Commission reports and initiate urgent actions to file legal action against the respondents. Remove all those officials who are accused through these reports of malpractices, from their current posts, until the verdicts are delivered.

6. To minimise emergency purchases of Medicinal drugs and ensure the transparency of that process through progress reports on emergency purchases, which is to be published on a monthly basis.

7. To identify alternative modes for distribution of pharmaceutical drugs to peripheral stations (e.g.: Public Transport services with identified modifications)

8. To open an “Information Desk” at the Ministry of Health to effectively communicate with and guide the donors of pharmaceutical items.

9. To fill the existing vacancies at National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), following stipulated acceptable pathways and activating all the sub committees within NMRA.

10. To declare a relief package to reduce the prices of essential medicinal drugs, through the upcoming interim budget.

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