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Cabinet approval for 3 private medical colleges 

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Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella announced that the Cabinet has granted approval for the establishment of three private medical colleges within Sri Lanka. 

Minister Rambukwella emphasized that these new medical institutions will adhere to the standards set by existing medical schools in the country.

Addressing a media briefing held at the Presidential Media Centre (PMC) today (11) on the theme ‘Collective Path to a Stable Country’, ‘ Minister Rambukwella elaborated on the initiative, stating: “The Cabinet has already given its approval to launch three new medical colleges. 

These institutions must maintain the same high standards as our existing medical schools. We must consider the number of our youth who choose to study in private institutions or abroad. It is our moral duty to provide adequate facilities and opportunities for our country’s children.”

The Minister further stressed that “Professors who have worked as consultants in the medical colleges of our country have outlined minimum qualifications. There is a law that mandates other recognized medical schools in this country to meet or exceed these standards.  Additionally, three hospitals have been integrated into these universities.

The minister also revealed that these universities have been urged to allocate scholarships to 10% of their student population, acknowledging the existence of qualified students who face financial barriers to pursuing medical education.

Minister Rambukwella took the opportunity to address concerns about the brain drain of medical professionals, attributing it to economic challenges faced by the country in 2019. He assured that the government is committed to addressing these issues, particularly regarding doctors’ remuneration.

He highlighted the need for comprehensive short, medium and long-term plans to address these challenges and pointed out that countries like England offer significantly higher salaries to medical professionals educated in Sri Lanka’s free education system.

In furtherance of our commitment to addressing critical healthcare challenges, it is essential to consider augmenting the intake capacity in specific domains. Currently, there exist stipulated minimum qualifications and approximately 13 medical faculties throughout the country. Regrettably, only around 2000 individuals are admitted into these institutions. It is evident that there is ample room to expand these numbers, as the intellectual capabilities of 

our nation’s youth are beyond question. It is imperative to provide opportunities to those with foundational qualifications who aspire to excel in the medical field.

In a related development, the motion of no confidence presented against Minister Rambukwella in Parliament was defeated. He acknowledged the constructive suggestions provided during the debate and pledged to take steps to implement them. He also presented evidence countering false allegations made during the motion, including concerns about the quality and availability of medicines

“In response to allegations raised within the no-confidence motion, particularly concerning the quality of medicines, I had the opportunity to present evidence substantiating the veracity of our claims. Reference was made to a report from 2017 highlighting issues related to substandard medications, with subsequent years showing varying numbers of such incidents: 85 in 2018, 96 in 2019, 77 in 2020, 88 in 2021, 86 in 2022 and 43 so far in 2023.

It is worth noting that, in some cases, reports of substandard drugs have emerged years after their approval, registration and utilization. We have initiated a comprehensive investigation into these reported incidents of inferior quality medicines. Additionally, there were allegations regarding the shortage of essential medicines, a concern we take seriously and are actively addressing.

Our on-going commitment remains to bolster our healthcare system, ensure the availability of high-quality medicines and provide opportunities for aspiring medical professionals. We recognize the need for continued dialogue and effective action to overcome the challenges facing our healthcare sector and to uphold the well-being of our citizens.”

Regarding lower quality medicines, Rambukwella referenced reports from recent years, indicating that these cases are being addressed. He affirmed that the government takes such matters seriously and is committed to ensuring the quality and availability of essential medicines for the public.

(President’s Media Division)

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SLFP to support no-confidence motion against the Speaker

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The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) has announced its endorsement of the no-confidence motion to be brought against the Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Accordingly, the SLFP announced that it will support the motion being brought against the Speaker by the opposition, and will vote in favour of it.

On Monday (26 Feb.), several Opposition members, led by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa, signed a motion of no confidence against the Speaker, claiming that he had violated the Constitution.

As such, a group of MPs belonging to the opposition in Parliament including M. A. Sumanthiran, Lakshman Kiriella, Prof. G. L. Pieris, Tissa Attanayake, Chandima Weerakkody and Shan Wijayalal de Silva, had inked the motion for approving the much-disputed Online Safety Bill amidst ‘irregular procedures’.

The no-confidence motion pointed out that the Speaker had ignored the Supreme Court’s recommendations pertaining to Sections 13, 17, 20, 33 (6), 34 (1), 35 (1), 21, 22 and 33 of the Online Safety Bill.

Earlier this month, Opposition Leader charged that the Speaker had ignored nine recommendations given by the Supreme Court while enacting the Online Safety Act, adding that they no longer have faith in him.

(adaderana.lk)

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School outdoor activities suspended over soaring temperatures

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The Education Ministry has instructed all respective school authorities to refrain from making students participate in strenuous outdoor activities until Friday (March 01) at schools as temperatures are expected to rise further.

Accordingly, Sports Day events, sports practices or any other scheduled outdoor activities are urged to be suspended for the time being.

Provincial and zonal authorities of education have been instructed to brief school principals about the matter, the ministry said in a press release.

In addition, school administrations are required to comply with the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

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Court suspends divestiture process of SLT & Lanka Hospitals

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The Court of Appeal yesterday (27) issued an interim order preventing authorities from proceeding with the divestiture process of Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, until March 12.

Three Petitions were filed for Sri Lanka Telecom PLC including by Lyca Mobiles, and S.M.R. M company, while two petitions were filed for Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC including by Lyca Leasing Holdings.

Upon the oral submissions made by President’s Counsel Kuvera De Zoysa, Court of Appeal Justice D.N. Samarakoon issued notices on respondents, returnable for March 12.

The petitioners named Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, the members of the special Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee for the purpose of selecting pre-qualified bidders for the strategic divestiture pertaining to 51.34% shares of Lanka Hospitals PLC and several others as respondents.

Kuvera De Zoysa, PC with Raslka Dissanayake, Sajana de Zoysa, Dinusha Pathirana and Shablr Huzalr instructed by Sanath Wijewardane appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioners had informed the court that they had submitted bids per the required criteria for the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government’s shares of 50.23% in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34% in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitioners alleged that, however, the Cabinet of Ministers had rejected the bids without providing any clear explanations, adding that the decision was against the law.

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