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Health Minister observes inequitable distribution of resources among hospitals

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Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella chairing the Ministerial Consultative Committee meeting on Health in Parliament

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella has requested the Secretary to the Ministry to submit an evaluation report on the distribution of medical equipment and human resources among government hospitals, Parliament sources said yesterday.

There was an excess of doctors in some hospitals and there was a shortage of doctors in some rural hospitals, the Minister said at the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Health.

The government was taking over the Base Hospitals to improve the quality of health care, the Minister said, adding that the takeover of subjects under the Provincial Councils by the government was problematic owing to the 13th Amendment.

The Health Minister said that it was appropriate to investigate and submit a report to the Cabinet in that regard.

SLPP Hambantota District MP Dr. Upul Galappaththi pointed out the need to follow a common policy in increasing salaries as there had been a wave of strikes in the health sector.

The Committee paid special attention to the fact that a large number of drugs had been imported during the last few years.

State Minister Prof. Channa Jayasumana pointed out that excess of drugs had been imported into the country in some years. He said a national information system as regards drugs would be launched and all hospitals in the country connected to it.

SLPP Galle District MP Geetha Kumarasinghe said there were many shortcomings in the Elpitiya Base Hospital and action should be taken to rectify them.

Although the Polonnaruwa Kidney Hospital had been opened, it was not fully functional due to a shortage of staff, the Committee observed.

Colombo District SLPP MP Madhura Withanage also raised an issue regarding the non-inclusion of the information about certain vaccinated persons in the active database.

The Secretary to the Ministry of Health informed the Committee that steps would be taken to resolve that situation expeditiously.

The number of calls received by the 1990 Suwa Sariya Ambulance Service as of midnight yesterday was forty-six million thirty-three thousand, said Colombo District SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva. He pointed out that Rs. 1,800 million had been allocated for the service for the year 2022, but the amount was not enough.

The Minister of Health informed the Committee that discussions were underway with the relevant parties to increase the amount by at least another Rs. 1,200 million as requested by MP Dr. de Silva.

It was also revealed at the meeting that 719 Ayurveda medical graduates remained unemployed.

State Minister Sisira Jayakody said that there was a plan to open Ayurveda dispensaries locally and give them appointments.

More than 20 Ministers, State Ministers and Members of Parliament were present at the Committee meeting. A number of officials representing the health sector attended the Ministerial Consultative Committee on Health.



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Keheliya turns down request for abolishing price control on medicine

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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

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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

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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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