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Hemas Hospitals secures seaside haven for COVID-19 patients at Hemas Berjaya ICC

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Operated under the supervision of a panel of consultants, the centre is equipped with a high dependency unit (HDU) capable of providing ICU care by a specialised team of medical officers and nurses

Leading private healthcare provider Hemas Hospitals, recently introduced their third intermediate care centre for COVID-19 positive patients, in partnership with Berjaya Hotel, Colombo. The four-star facility located on the shores of Mount Lavinia’s pristine beach, has been fitted into a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art care centre with an in-house High Dependency Unit (HDU) operated by Hemas Hospitals, which is the only COVID-19 Safety Management Systems Certified (SLS 1672:2020) hospital in Sri Lanka. The Centre is managed under the stringent directives of the Ministry of Health.

“Our new partnership with Berjaya Hotel Colombo is a result of our belief that complete healing necessitates wellness in both the mind and body, which is something we wanted our patients to experience during these uncertain times. With its star-class accommodation options, Berjaya was a natural fit to our proposition. Apart from access to a portfolio of 5care of a highly-skilled and deeply committed clinical team fully geared to provide superior, personalised and safe medical care as they attempt to transition through this difficult and stressful period of isolation, healing and rest,” stated Hemas Hospitals and Laboratories Managing Director and President, Association of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Dr. Lakith Peiris.

Patients who test positive for COVID-19′ can reach out to Hemas Hospitals on +94 766830146 to book their treatment period, upon which they will be transported to the centre safely in the 24 hour ambulance service offered by the hospital. All patients are held under the close supervision of a highly-skilled, trained team of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff who perform routine daily medical observations and keep comprehensive records of each patient, supported by a 24/7 on-call panel of board-certified consultants.

Operated under the supervision of a panel of consultants, the centre is equipped with a high dependency unit (HDU) capable of providing ICU care by a specialised team of medical officers and nurses. Furthermore, Hemas Hospitals offers facilities for diagnostic testing, and consultations with specialist consultants and nutritionists to ensure a 360 service.

Each fully furnished, spacious room is air-conditioned with access to a large balcony overseeing tranquil vistas of the Indian Ocean, and comes with an attached bathroom. All rooms are fitted with a broad array of luxury amenities to ensure an ultimate level of comfort and ease for each occupant. Patients can select from among a wide choice of food and beverage options to suit their specific dietary requirements.



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BP sees biggest profit in 114-year history after oil and gas prices soar

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(picture BBC)

Energy giant BP has reported record annual profits after oil and gas prices surged last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The company’s profits more than doubled to $27.7bn (£23bn) in 2022, compared with $12.8bn the year before.

Other energy firms have seen similar rises, with Shell reporting record earnings of nearly $40bn last week.

The profits have led to calls for energy firms to pay more tax as many households struggle with rising bills.

BP boss Bernard Looney said the British company was “helping provide the energy the world needs” and investing the transition to green energy.

Energy prices had begun to climb following the end of Covid lockdowns but rose sharply in March last year after Russia invaded Ukraine, sparking concerns about global supplies.

The price of Brent crude oil reached nearly $128 a barrel, but has since fallen back to about $80. Gas prices also spiked but have come down from their highs.

It has led to bumper profits for energy companies, but also fuelled a rise in energy bills for households and businesses.

(BBC)

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Public spending on education in SL declining but non-state actor participation in sector up: IPS

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L-R Dr Madura Wehella, former Additional Secretary (Policy, Planning and Review), Ministry of Education; Prof Harischandra Abeygunawardena, Chairman, National Education Commission; Dr Nisha Arunatilake, Director of Research, IPS; Asith de Silva, Senior Manager - Social Innovations, Dialog Axiata PLC and Dr Harsha Alles, Chairman, Gateway Group

By Lynn Ockersz

‘Despite Sri Lanka’s free education policy and expansion of state activities in education, public spending on education has historically declined. Government expenditure on education is low compared to Nepal, India and Malaysia, for example, although research indications are that non-state actor participation in the sector is growing, Director of Research at the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka Dr. Nisha Arunatilaka said.

‘Encouraging non-state sector participation in education services and expanding on successful collaborative initiatives between the state and non-state sectors to improve services, efficiency and quality, though under regulation and with attention to ensuring equity, are some measures that could be taken to address the challenges faced by Sri Lanka’s non-state education sector, Dr. Arunatilaka added. She was addressing an IPS and UNESCO-initiated panel discussion titled, ‘Non-State Actors in Sri Lanka’s Education Sector’, on January 24, at the IPS’s Dr. Saman Kelegama auditorium, to mark International Day of Education.

The event was aimed at raising public awareness on the findings of the ‘Global Education Monitoring Report 2022 South Asia’, which draws on the global comparative research by the ‘Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report at UNESCO’. The IPS is one of six regional partners who contributed to the report on the basis of Sri Lanka’s experiences in the relevant areas of interest, IPS sources said.

Earlier, addressing the audience online, Senior Project Officer (Research), Global Education Monitoring Report, UNESCO, Dr. Priyadarshani Joshi said: ‘The 2022 GEM Report demonstrates inadequate public provision in South Asia and discusses the different contributions to education made by the region’s diverse non-state providers. To strengthen South Asia’s education sector, we suggest bringing all actors under one umbrella to work towards achieving educational goals by creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment, built on standards, information, incentives and accountability.’

The IPS-UNESCO panel brought together some key figures in Sri Lanka’s educational sphere from the state and non-state sectors. Following their presentations a Q&A session with the audience followed.

Chairman, National Education Commission Professor Harishchandra Abeygunawardena said in his presentation and in response to issues raised by the audience: ‘There is certainly a role for non-state actors in Sri Lanka’s education sector. We need to improve non-state access to the lower levels of education and to the tertiary level of the structure. Currently, resource constraints face the government. Here’s where the private sector could come in and help meet this shortfall in resource-allocation. In these efforts we need to keep in mind the primary aims in education: Providing universal access to education, irrespective of creed, ethnicity, language and other differences and bringing out good citizens. The promotion of patriotism among students is important.

‘However, there is no accountability on the part of some private schools. Many private schools do not get registered with the authorities. The impression that one gets with regard to many institutions in this sector is that ‘education is up for sale’. The number of students “passing out” with “top degrees” is astounding. The quality of teaching and the educational qualifications of many teachers leave much to be desired.’

Chairman, Gateway Group, Dr. Harsha Alles said: ‘There is no support for the private sector in education. There are no loans for us free of charge but we have to pay all taxes without fail. Currently, there are 140,000 students in private schools. However, there are some 1,500 state schools with less than 50 students.

‘But private educational institutions could to do things differently. For example, through the use of modern technology in teaching. The public and private sectors have to work together. But the monitoring of private schools is important. The entirety of the latter institutions need to register with the authorities but this has not happened. We need to work out the cost per student. When this is done it will be found that the cost per private sector student is lower than that of his counterparts in the public sector.’

Senior Manager, Social Innovations, Dialog Axiata PLC, Asith de Silva stressed the need for up-skilling teachers. They need to acquire the ability to teach with the aid of modern technology. At present there is a lack of awareness among many teachers on the need for such abilities. They and the general public should be made aware of the importance of IT technology, if not such technology would be a like a new car that has been for bought for running but left completely unused. It is unfortunate that some school administrators and teachers have a misleading view on IT technology. Prejudices to the effect that the use of IT in teaching could lead to harmful consequences need to be dispelled.

Outlining some ways in which Dialog is helping in achieving educational goals, De Silva said that under its ‘Nenasa’ program eight channels are dedicated to teaching students from Years 1 to 13. There are four such dedicated channels in Tamil.

Former Additional Secretary (Policy, Planning and Review), Ministry of Education Dr. Madura M. Wehella focusing on existing gaps in educational regulations drew attention in particular to the 1961 Education Act which does not recognize non-state actors in local education. She said, among other things, that ‘state and non-state actors could collectively overcome regulatory constraints and strengthen the education system holistically’. For example, the two actors could collaborate in introducing innovations in the area of teacher training.

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Share market pulls back from green territory; mid-day trade slumps

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne

The CSE fell in mid-day trade yesterday, having pulled back after continuously being on the green in the past sessions. But banking sector counters showed some selling pressure due to certain comments in the media during the weekend on domestic debt restructuring, analysts said.

The market moved to green with a leap on Friday, generating over Rs 4 billion due to credit assurance from the Paris Club, Non Paris Club and bond holders on the matter of obtaining the IMF bail-out package, market analysts opined.

However, there’s a pull- back consequent to certain media articles on domestic debt restructuring, which resulted in impairing investor perception to greater extent, especially in the banking sector, market analysts added.

Consequently, both indices moved downwards. The All- Share Price Index went down by 78.4 points and S and P SL20 declined by 20.2 points. Turnover stood at Rs 2.3 billion with five crossings. Those crossings accounted for 30 per cent of revenue, analysts explained.

The companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, Expolanka Holdings, which crossed 900,000 shares to the tune of Rs 172.8 million, its shares traded at Rs 492, JKH 1 million shares crossed to the tune of Rs 145 million, its shares fetched Rs 145, Sampath Bank one million shares crossed for Rs 45.5 million, its shares traded at Rs 45.50, Dialog Axiata 2.6 million shares crossed for Rs 26 million, its shares fetched Rs 10 and Agstar PLC 1.48 million shares crossed for Rs 23 million, its shares traded at Rs 15.60.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were, JKH Rs 308 million (2.1 million shares traded), Expolanka Holdings Rs 288 million (1.5 million shares traded), Aitken Spence Rs 119 million (794,000 shares traded), Lanka IOC Rs 87.1 million (434,000 shares traded), Expact Corrugated Cartons Rs 75.5 million (4.5 million shares traded) and Softlogic Capital Rs 70.6 million (4.2 million shares traded). During the day 73.8 million share volumes changed hands in 17000 transactions.

The banking sector should explore restructuring loans of salaried employees hit by progressive tax, Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe said as progressive income taxes were imposed at lower thresholds amid high inflation following a sovereign default.

There have been complaints mainly by picketing state enterprise executives and also other workers of such agencies, such Sri Lanka Port Authority, that high progressive taxes were putting their bank accounts into overdraft after loan installments were cut.

Yesterday, the Central Bank announced the US dollar buying rate as Rs 359.99 and selling rate as Rs 370.18.

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