GMOF blames it all on Pavitra
Minister asked to clarify Dr. Godahewa’s claim of deliberate delay in Sinopharm use
By Shamindra Ferdinando
The Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) President Dr. Rukshan Bellana says Health Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi should accept the blame for the poor management of the health sector during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic crisis.
Dr. Bellana, in a brief interview with The Island, yesterday (26) discussed how the mismanagement on the part of the Health Minister contributed to the rapid deterioration of the situation. “The whole operation is in chaos,” Dr. Bellana said, urging the government to take remedial measures immediately or face the consequences.
Asked whether it was fair to hold one person responsible for whatever the shortcomings or failures when the government’s effort was being handled at different levels, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Army Commander General Shavendra Silva and DGHS (Director General Health Services) Dr Asela Gunawardena, Dr. Bellana emphasized the role and responsibilities of the Health Minister couldn’t be compared with that of political and military leaders.
Referring to a statement issued by the Health Ministry on May 21, Dr. Bellana said that Minister Wanniarachchi had accused the social media of carrying out an organized campaign against the ongoing inoculation drive. Dr. Bellana questioned the Minister’s strategy in warning the social media for what she called lies and propaganda whereas the inoculation campaign was under heavy fire from many quarters.
Dr. Bellana asked who would take the responsibility for not managing the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine? Of 1,264,000 doses (500,000 donated by New Delhi, 500,000 bought also from the same source-Serum Institute, Pune, and the rest through Covax initiative), received in three stocks up to March 7, 925,000 were used in the first round. “Now, the government is struggling to procure over 600,000 Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines at any cost. This is a joke,” Dr. Bellana said, urging the cabinet of ministers to review the Health Ministry response to the threat.
Dr. Bellana alleged that Minister Wanniarachchi felt comfortable in dealing with the GMOA. How come the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) and Association of Medical Specialists weren’t given sufficient opportunity to take up issues or included in discussions opened for the GMOA.
Dr. Bellana said that Minister Wanniarachchi should pave the way for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to name a new Health Minister by stepping down on her own. Recalling the then MP and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila’s declaration that all ministers should be properly graded and sacked forthwith in case they failed to meet their responsibilities, Dr. Bellana said Minister Wanniarachchi should be dealt with.
The Health Ministry said that an investigation was underway into ongoing slandering campaign undertaken by the social media. The Ministry emphasized that there is no basis for accusations that whatever the type of Covid-19 vaccines could be procured for money through Ministry officials and those close to the Minister.
Dr. Bellana said that the Executive Committee of the GMOF after having discussed the continuing deterioration of the Covid-19 battle decided to seek President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s intervention. The GMOF alleged that (1) Minister Wanniarachchi instead of giving leadership to the health staff divided them, (2) Minister Wanniarachchi being a cat’s paw of one union (GMOF was referring to the GMOA), (3) fails to work with relevant sectors, (4) Fails to unite senior officials of the Ministry, (5) Promotes myths instead of following proper procedures (6) Paves the way for corruption in the battle against Covid-19, (7) Appoints the retired instead of those suitable serving the health service, (8) Politically victimises workers, (9) Turns a blind eye to doctors promoting lies on television and (10) turns the inoculation drive to a joke.
Dr. Bellana said that the Health Minister should set the record straight. If the Minister believed she couldn’t perform as expected due to interference, then she should expose them.
Dr. Bellana pointed out that State Minister Dr. Nalaka Godahewa recently acknowledged that the situation deteriorated due to nearly six weeks delay in using 600,000 Sinopharm doses in the government’s hands since March 30. Dr, Godahewa said that deaths could have been prevented if the Chinese vaccine was used in time. What would the Health Minister say to the State Minister’s statement? Was the delay deliberate as speculated by Dr Godahewa, Dr Bellana asked.
In a letter addressed to President Rajapaksa, the GMOF, having compared those who held the Health portfolio over the past 20 years or so with the incumbent, asserted that Minister Wanniarachchi is the worst.
SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving
By Saman Indrajith
Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.
“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.
Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.
“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.
Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.
“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”
CEB hit by exodus of technical staff
By Shiran Ranasinghe
At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.
“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.
CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.
“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.
Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES
By Saman Indrajith
The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.
Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.
“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.
“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.
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