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Children’s vaccination drive kicks off



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The government was planning to finish vaccinating children between 12 and 19 years of age by the end of October, Minister of Health, Keheliya Rambukwelle said yesterday at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital.

The vaccination drive kicked off with the inoculation of children over the age of 12 suffering from comorbidities at the Lady Ridgeway, Kurunegala and Anuradhapura Hospitals. A 14-year-old girl was the first to be vaccinated.

“We started this initiative after the Director General of Health Services issued guidelines. The first to be inoculated are the children with comorbidities. We are using the Pfizer vaccine. Kurunegala and Anuradhapura Hospitals were chosen because there are a large number of children with comorbidities in the two districts,” he said.

The Minister said that there were some discussions on the best vaccine to use among children between 12 and 15. Until that discussion is solved, those with comorbidities and those between 15 and 19 would be vaccinated, he said.

Meanwhile, Chair Professor of Paediatrics Shaman Rajindrajith of the Department of Paediatrics, University of Colombo, who was also present at LRH, urged parents to have their children vaccinated as soon as possible.

“There are very little side effects. However, if something happens a consultant paediatrician will be on call. The vaccination cards indicate a hotline and if there is any problem, parents can call us. On the first day of the vaccination (24) I will be the person answering the phone. So, don’t worry, we are ready for anything,” he said,

President of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya said that over 100 children had arrived at LRH. He said that there were between 30,000 and 50,000 children with comorbidities in the country.

“First we will vaccinate those with comorbidities, so that they can resume schooling. Then we will vaccinate those between 15 and 19 and then those between 12 and 15. We will get the consent of the parents and a medical specialist will check the child before vaccination,” he said.

Meanwhile, Director of the Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital, Dr. G. Wijesuriya said that there were adequate vaccines available for all and that they would vaccinate everyone who turned up at the hospital. “There is no need to worry. We have enough vaccines. Parents can register their children through our website. They can reserve a time and get children vaccinated under specialist healthcare. We will use Pfizer and before vaccinating a specialist will check the child. If the child has high fever, diarrhoea or nausea, we will not vaccinate them,” he said.

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Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine



Industry leader has sought court intervention

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday (17) said that in spite of difficulties caused by the foreign currency crisis price control on imported medicines couldn’t be done away with.

Abolition of price control on drugs would heap an enormous burden on the vast majority of people, Minister Rambukwella said.

Lawmaker Rambukwella said so when The Island sought his response to the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) requesting the government to do away with price control. Claiming that the grouping imported over 80 percent of medicines into the country, the SLCPI recently warned of possible collapse of the industry unless remedial measures were taken swiftly.

Minister Rambukwella said that recently he met an SLCPI delegation at their request to discuss issues at hand. “Of course, I understand the difficulties experienced by all sectors, including the pharmaceutical trade. However, price control as regards medicine cannot be done away with,” Minister Rambukwella said.

The SLCPI has pointed out to the Minister that at the moment medicines were the only commodity under price control in the local market. The Health Minister asserted that it wouldn’t be fair to compare the medicine with other commodities.

Minister Rambukwella said that regardless of constrains, the government was trying to ensure uninterrupted supply of medicine and it wouldn’t be fair to do at this juncture.

In a statement sent to the media SLCPI asserted: “There is no solution to this dilemma than removing the price control of medicines and implement a fair and equitable pricing mechanism which will link the price of medicines to the dollar, inflation and direct costs such as raw material, fuel and freight charges, which will then make importing and marketing of medicines viable. As difficult as it may sound, the authorities will have to choose between having medicines at a cost and not having medicines at all.”

The SLCPI has already sought the intervention of the courts to establish what the grouping called a transparent pricing mechanism outside government price control.

Recently, Minister Rambukwella, at a meeting also attended by State Minister Dr. Channa Jayasumana called for a report on the requirement of medicines over the next six months. The Health Ministry declared that there was no shortage of drugs whereas SLCPI claimed some drugs were in short supply and the situation could get worse.

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Central Expressway: Rs 3 mn raked in within 12 hours



Chief Government Whip and Highways Minister Johnston Fernando said yesterday that about three million rupees had been earned by way of toll within the first 12 hours of the opening of the second phase of the Central Expressway.

Rs 2,805,100.00 had been paid by the expressway users during the first 12 hours from 12 noon to midnight Sunday (16) after its opening by the President and the Prime Minister on Saturday (15).

The Minister said that during the first 12 hours of the period of toll collection, a total of 13,583 vehicles had traversed the most  scenic road stretch in the country between Mirigama and Kurunegala. No traffic accidents had been reported during the 12 hour period.

Minister Fernando said that the newly opened road had been allowed to be used by the public free of charge for 12 hours from midnight Saturday (15) to Sunday (16) noon.

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President to inaugurate second session of Ninth Parliament today



by Saman Indrajith

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is scheduled to commence the second session of the Ninth Parliament today at 10 am with his third Presidential policy statement (formerly Throne Speech).

He made his first ‘Throne Speech’ on Jan 3, 2020, opening the Fourth Session of the Eighth Parliament and the second on Aug 20, 2020 to open the First Session of the Ninth Parliament.

Secretary General of Parliament, Dhammika Dasanayake said that MPs have been requested to arrive at the parliamentary complex at 9.25 am the latest.

The MPs, if accompanied by their spouses will alight from their vehicles at the Staff Entrance of the parliamentary building, while all other MPs are requested to drive up to the Members’ Entrance.

To facilitate orderly arrival, the MPs are requested that the Car Label provided them with be pasted on the inside top left-hand corner of the windscreen of their vehicles. On arrival at Parliament, Members’ vehicles would be directed by the Police to the appropriate Car Park.

Thereafter the MPs are requested to enter the lobbies of Parliament and to remain there until the Quorum Bells are rung.

President Rajapaksa is scheduled to arrive at the Main Steps of the Parliament Building at 9.40 a.m. and he would be received by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

The President will be escorted by them to the Parliament Building. Thereafter, the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament will escort the President to his Chambers.

At 9.55 a.m. the Quorum Bells will be rung for five minutes and all Members will take their seats in the Chamber of Parliament.

The President’s procession will leave for the Chamber of Parliament and will enter the Chamber at 10.00 am. On entering the Chamber the President’s arrival will be announced whereupon all Members will stand in their places until the President reaches the Chair and requests the Members to be seated.

Thereafter, the Proclamation proroguing the Parliament and Summoning the Meeting of Parliament will be read by the Secretary General of Parliament. Then, the President will address Parliament.

After his policy statement the President will adjourn the House until 1.00 p.m. on Wednesday (19).

Thereafter, the President will leave the Chamber escorted by the Speaker and the Secretary-General of Parliament.

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