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Vaccine best bet against coronavirus – Medical Specialists

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Securing a vaccine against COVID-19 is a matter of top priority as Sri Lanka is nearing 50,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, Dr L.A Ranasinghe, President of the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) has said.

Dr. Ranasinghe has said in a media statement: “The death toll is on the rise. Economy has received a death blow. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel as several vaccines are getting lined up in the world as the only scientific battle against COVID-19. Close to 20 countries have already commenced vaccinating their population against Covid-19. Although countries differ in identifying their order of priority, they all have very clearly identified the dire need of commencing vaccination against this virus. The Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) firmly believes that vaccination is the best available solution Sri Lanka has at present to face Covid-19 along with other public health measures.”

Dr Ranasinghe said that there was a strong justification to use the vaccines currently approved in the rest of the world in our country as soon as possible. He added that it was misleading to state that these vaccines are still in the experimental stage.

“No time should be wasted to distract the vaccine effort with myths or unproven theories. The widely used vaccines that were born through extremely efficient and highly coordinated use of scientific research have also gone through stringent regulatory approvals from credible agencies which include the WHO. Further, they will have to be approved by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority too before its use in Sri Lanka. The AMS whilst appreciating the efforts of your excellency and the government for their proactive efforts, we wish to re-iterate the need for a well-coordinated and an efficient mechanism to speed up the process of securing the vaccine/s at this hour of need. We are aware of the global competition for securing the doses they need. It could be disastrous to entrust the total responsibility with regard to securing this to individuals or officials who function at a snail’s pace.”

Excerpts of the media statement: “We wish to alert authorities that some may adopt delaying tactics deliberately for various reasons. Some officials in the Ministry of health have track records for ‘delays’ in many tasks they were assigned in the past. Sri Lanka stands out in the world map for our strong public health services and that has beaten even many developed countries, with our vaccine coverage and acceptance being among the best in the world. With the high literacy rate and efficient public health network, mass vaccination is nothing new to our health services. Being an island with secure borders and a population of only 21 million, we are a country where vaccinating the entire eligible population including the country’s total work force on a priority order is a realistic and feasible option. It is also a worthwhile investment, not only for health but also the economic benefits it will deliver. This will place us in a unique situation, with our ability to fully open the country where factories and tourism and our economy can jump ahead of many others, making Sri Lanka one of the safest countries in the world to travel and to deal with. It is best that we take advantage of our unique circumstances. For the best outcome, extreme efficiency is a must and we will need top officials with a proven track record handing our vaccine effort.”

“The AMS wishes to propose that we resort to a multi-pronged effort to reach success fast. It should include prompt and efficient response in obtaining the free quota of vaccines offered for 20% of our population through the COVAX facility, negotiating with various sources and countries to obtain or buy more doses to cover the balance population, and permitting and facilitating the private sector also to import, distribute and vaccinate, with state monitoring to help effective coverage of the population who could afford the vaccine privately. AMS will extend its maximum support to make this effort a grand success.”



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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo

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Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?

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By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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