The Health Ministry has cancelled all foreign tours of Ministry officials and government doctors with immediate effect until January 30 as a precautionary measure to prepare the country for a possible epidemic. This move was taken in the backdrop of AH1N1 influenza commonly known as Swine flue, Leptospirosis commonly known as rat fever and Dengue now spreading in the country.
Addressing a Press Conference at the Ministry, Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said that all officers including doctors working islandwide would have to go abroad for their trainings and further studies, but their trips would be cancelled for the next two months due to the prevailing epidemic situation.
The Minister said that the Ministry decided to import a certain type of bacteria as a bio-prevention method for dengue and rat fever, but it was delayed due to the registration process at the office of the Pesticides Registrar.
`The Ministry planned to import BTI bacteria as a biological control method of the mosquitoes that is spreading dengue. The Ministry is also planning to import a bio rat to prevent the rat fever (Leptospirosis). They will be imported from Cuba and the Ministry is waiting for the clearance from the Registrar of Pesticide which had to be passed according to the law of the country,` Minister de Silva said.
Registrar of Pesticides Champa Magamage addressing the press said that the Ministry s request was being evaluated and it will take two to three months since it is a lengthy process. However, the approval will be given soon to import 30,000 litre of the BTI bacteria to be used in selected MOH divisions.
Director (Public Health) of the Ministry Dr. Palitha Mahipala said there are 4,210 rat fever cases and 29,960 dengue cases reported from the country from January 01. Of them, 131 and 280 were reported dead.
Cuban Ambassador in Sri Lanka Nirsiyo Castro said the experts team of her country came to Sri Lanka in July and they investigated the situation for four months. Cuba is willing to give their support to the Sri Lanka s health sector any time not only for rat fever and dengue but also for all other diseases.