LNP – Medical specialists urge govt to sound WHO on anti-Covid-19 vaccine

While some seek approval for ‘Dhammika Peniya’

A group of medical specialists has requested Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Pandemic Control Minister Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle to apprise the World Health Organization (WHO) of Sri Lanka’s readiness to use an anti-Covid-19 vaccine approved by it.

The discussion took place close on the heels of Dr Razia Pendse, WHO Representative in Sri Lanka meeting Dr. Fernandopulle. The ministry spokesperson said that they discussed how to provide the vaccine once a decision was made in that regard.

The WHO is yet to issue licence to any of the vaccines produced by various countries.

The group of specialists has emphasized the pivotal importance of reaching a consensus with the WHO in this regard when Dr. Fernandopulle sought opinion as regards acquisition of foreign vaccines touted as Covic-19 cure.

Secretary to the Ministry Dr. Harsha Amal de Silva, Senior Professor of Medicine at the University of Kelaniya Janaka de Silva, Prof. Anuja P. Premawardena also of Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Prof. Arjuna de Silva of Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Prof. Sarath Lekamwasam, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Dr. Ananda Wjewickrema of National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Pradeep Kumarasinghe of the National Hospital and Dr. Bodhika Samarasekera of Gampaha Hospital had participated in the discussion held on Wednesday (23) at the Health Ministry.

At the onset of the meeting, State Minister Fernandopulle emphasized that counter measures in respect of Covid-19 should be taken on a scientific basis. The State Minister said that the Covid-19 should be appropriately tackled as a pandemic. The minister said so at the meeting called to discuss ways and means of tightening control over Covid-19. Dr. Fernandopulle stressed that the ongoing epidemic control project should be based on technical decisions and implemented with the support of the media.

The State Minister called the meeting with specialists in the wake of the high profile government efforts to subject untested, homemade herbal brew ‘ Dhammika Paniya’ for what co-cabinet spokesperson Dr. Ramesh Pathirana called placebo control randomized double-blind clinical trial.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently created a special ministry for Dr. Fernandopulle to step up government efforts against the rampaging virus against the backdrop of the second Covid-19 wave threatening to overwhelm the badly overstretched health sector.

According to the Ministry spokesperson, the discussion covered problems encountered in tackling the disease, direction in the ongoing operations, co-operation between the ministry and medical specialists and ways and means to improve health facilities provided to those living in rural areas and the needy.

The specialists sounded the State Minister on the need to continue with medical education, nursing and laboratory services in spite of the continuing difficulties.

The specialists asserted that the economy could be revived by taking proper measures, including a vaccination project. They appreciated resumption of tourism and the State Minister taking a sensible stand in respect of various proposals. In an obvious reference to Dr. Fernandopulle’s public stand that local remedies should be subjected to proper scrutiny, the specialists commended the minister.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi yesterday (24) directed managers of 16 Economic Centres (EC) to follow specific guidelines in operation of their centres as their failure to do so would cause a catastrophe. Addressing EC managers, Minister Wanniarachchi warned unless strict procedures were followed Covid-19 could spread to the entire country through ECs. The Health Ministry issued a series of specific instructions on running their operations.

Authoritative sources told The Island that immediate were needed to be carried out as regards implementation of a proper vaccination programme once the WHO issued license/licenses taking into consideration a range of factors, particularly the suitability of the selected vaccine. Sources acknowledged that the government hadn’t allocated funds whatsoever through Budget 2021 for covid-19 vaccine.

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