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Health Ministry officials going rogue with vaccination rollout – Sudarshini

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ECONOMYNEXT – Top officials at Sri Lanka’s health ministry have taken snap decisions on the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in complete disregard of Ministry-sanctioned recommendations made by a technical committee, State Minister Sudarshini Fernandopulle said.

The sudden appearance of vaccination centres was a result of such rash decisions, she said.

The State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control told reporters yesterday that these officials even override directives given by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa through the presidential task force appointed to oversee the country’s vaccination drive.

“When decisions have already been made [regarding the rollout timetable], these officials suddenly call at night and say start the programme right away. We can’t do it this way,” she said.

Explaining the process, Fernandopulle said local Medical Officers of Health (MOH) in consultation with Grama Niladharis need to first inform the public well in advance. When that process is already underway, decisions are changed with one phone call, she complained.

According to Fernandopulle, the Health Ministry has yet to send an official guidelines on COVID-19 vaccination to MOH offices

The offending officials who make these ad-hoc decisions in the Health Ministry, she said, do not have a thorough understanding of public health but are nevertheless responsible for their actions.

“Even though the COVID-19 prevention portfolio was assigned to me, I’m not always aware of some of the meetings that are taking place nor about the decisions reached at those meetings,” she said.

“We also need to follow up on any side effects and then plan for the second dose,” she added.

Immunisation programmes that were carried out by the Health Ministry in the past, Fernandopulle said, were also rife with communication issues and ad hoc decisions.  According to the state minister, the president has instructed the health ministry to vaccinate everyone above 30, particularly in the Grama Niladhari divisions that have recorded a high number of COVID-19 cases. This is in order to reduce deaths and the spread of the virus, she said.

When questioned about her powers within the Health Ministry, Fernandopulle said that it is the Secretary to the Ministry and Director General of Health Services who have authority within the ministry.

However, she said that the government will take measures to correct the mistakes made in the program as Sri Lanka is spending huge amounts on the vaccines.

 

 



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SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving

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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.”

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CEB hit by exodus of technical staff

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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.

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Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES

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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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