President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that although some people may have divergent, personal and political views on him and the Government, they should refrain from insulting the heroic soldiers or else support any allegations with facts.
President Rajapaksa made these comments, at a ceremony held last morning at Temple Trees, to hand over certificates to 1200 nurses who had passed out from nurses training schools around the country, on completion of their three-year training period.
Addressing the gathering President Rajapaksa said the Government would never forget its responsibilities using the war as an excuse and added that although the war has made heavy demands on the State coffers, the Government was continuing its development and welfare programmes without interruption.
`Do not exaggerate incidents of abductions and disappearances with the intention of depicting Sri Lanka as a sick country to the international community. Ironically not a single person goes to the Wanni to take permanent residence there, but there are thousands who come from the Wanni to the South and taking residence here,` he said.
President Rajapaksa paid a glowing tribute to the nursing profession saying only nurses, among those in the state sector, had not been accused of taking bribes and it was highly praiseworthy.
`The Government, as a welfare state, that provides free health care services from the womb to the tomb is not in a position to discriminate against its citizens even during a war. That is why doctors and nurses at our health care institutions, treat even terrorists with dedication and compassion, when they get wounded and are brought in, during conflicts,` the President said.
Health Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva said the Government spent around a million rupees to train a nurse.
`Sri Lankan nurses are in demand in the West as our nurses are highly skilled and caring. Therefore the ministry has taken steps to send 500 nurses each year to Italy, Canada, US and Britain` he said.
`Five new nurses training schools are to be opened to end the scarcity of nurses. Selected training schools will be upgraded to university level enabling nurses to obtain the BSc. degree making it possible for them to serve in foreign countries,` the minister said.
The vote of thanks was proposed by the best student nurse, B. A. D. Praboditha of the Kurunagala Nurses` Training School. She was awarded a cash prize of Rs. 25,000 by the State Service United Nurses` Union president Ven. Muruthettuwe Ananda Thera.
Twenty five nurses who had achieved top marks on the merit list received their certificates from the President.
Ministers W. D.J. Seneviratne, A.H.M Fowzie, Jayaratna Herath, Suresh Vadivel, Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage, DDHS Dr. Ajith Mendis and Director Administration Miss Shama Denawatte were present.