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Exorbitant charges driving patients away from pvt. healthcare providers – Keheliya, GMOA

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Deputy Minister Sisira Jayakody looks on as Health Minister Rambukwella addresses the Consultative Committee on Health, in Parliament

Private Hospitals Association demands to know basis of Minister’s assertion

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Government hospitals struggling to cope up with shortage of medicine, essential equipment as well as disruption of supplies for want of funds are likely to face a significant increase in the number of patients next year.

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella recently asserted government hospitals were likely to experience a 25% to 30% increase in the number of patients next year. Rambukwella said so at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Health.

Addressing the Consultative Committee, in his capacity as the Chairperson, Minister Rambukwella warned of a sharp increase in the number of patients at government hospitals as the middle income category found it difficult to seek treatment at private hospitals.

Among those present at the meeting were Minister Naseer Ahamed, State Ministers, (Dr.) Seetha Arambepola, and Sisira Jayakody and MPs Dr. Rajitha Senarathne, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Ashok Abeysinghe, Weerasumana Weerasinghe and Sivagnanam Shritharan

The Consultative Committee discussed the crisis against the backdrop of government hospitals unable to meet the growing demand due to the forex crisis. Lawmakers expressed concerns over the public being forced to obtain treatment at private hospitals as the government couldn’t meet the emergency situation according to the Consultative Committee.

Responding to concerns with regard to the shortage of medicines raised by members of the Consultative Committee, Minister Rambukwella has disclosed the utilization of USD 28 mn grant, provided by China, to procure 14 essential medicines. Director Legislative Services, Janakantha Silva, quoted Minister Rambukwella as having said that in addition to USD 200 mn allocated to cater to the needs of the health sector, the Cabinet of Ministers has granted approval for an additional USD 35 mn for the same purpose.

The Island sought the response of K.A.A.P. Kuruppuarachchi and Sunil Ratnapriya, the President and the Secretary of the Association of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes yesterday (30), questioned the basis for Minister Rambukwella’s declaration in the absence of any study or survey on the issues at hand.

They explained that it wouldn’t be fair to comment on the Minister’s assertion without knowing the basis he made that particular comment. However, the increase in charges at hospitals and nursing homes, affiliated to the Association, should be examined, taking into consideration the escalation of everything, including medicine, equipment as well as all services.

Responding to another query, the spokespersons emphasized that there was absolutely no basis for claims that excessive charges caused a drop in patients at private hospitals and nursing homes. Kuruppuarachchi pointed out in fact for want of medicine and other required services, some moved to private hospitals from state run hospitals. Actually they didn’t have any other option, Kuruppuarachchi said urging all those concerned to be cautious as the crisis experienced by the health sector couldn’t be taken in isolation.

Kuruppuarachchi underscored the need to take into consideration the increase in charges of electricity, water and other utilities due to unprecedented devaluation of the Rupee this year. The situation remained unpredictable and quite volatile, therefore no one could predict where we were heading, he said.

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) agreed with Minister Rambukwelle’s warning. Dr. Prabath Sugathadasa said that government hospitals had experienced a significant increase in the number of people seeking treatment. The numbers would definitely go up and there was no point in denying the impending crisis, Dr. Sugathadasa said, drawing the attention of the powers that be of the difficulties experienced by the hapless public owing to the debt crisis.

Dr. Sugathadasa said that the situation was so bad some people had no option but to postpone taking treatment as they didn’t have the means to do so.



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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