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President’s fund increases medical allowances to 100%

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As per President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s directives, measures have been initiated to enhance the medical allowances provided by the President’s Fund, increasing them from 50% to 100%, effective from January 01, 2024.

Mr. Sarath Kumara, the Secretary of the President’s Fund, announced that in line with the President’s guidance, services offered to the public by the President’s Fund will be expanded from the year 2024.

To achieve this, previously uncovered medical conditions have been identified, and assistance has commenced for those diseases. Notably, starting this year, medical aid will cover eye surgeries for individuals under 21 years of age, performed in private or semi-public hospitals.

In an effort to minimize the influx of patients seeking medical assistance in the city, a streamlined registration system within the President’s Fund for hospitals across the island has been implemented from 2024.

Furthermore, the stipend for post-working hours heart surgeries at Karapitiya Hospital will be increased this year, with plans to extend this system to other hospitals. Additionally, starting this year, medical aid payments of up to Rs. 01 million will be provided for liver transplant surgeries for young children at the Ragama Hospital.

Recognizing a gap in coverage, medical aid will now be extended to cover cancer surgeries performed in private or semi-public hospitals. Moreover, both private or semi-public hospitals and government hospitals will offer medical aid for medical tests conducted externally before and after bone marrow transplant surgery, effective this year.

Starting this year, the President’s Fund raises the monthly income limit for medical aid from Rs.150,000 to 200,000 , aiding middle-class individuals. Secretary Mr. Sarath Kumara notes the Fund’s adherence to the President’s directives in providing prompt services in 2023.
In that year, over 8,000 pending medical aid applications were addressed, spending 1,342 million rupees. Additionally, 3458 applications received in 2023 were processed, with Rs. 844.7 million disbursed.

Further, as per the instructions of the President, the President’s Fund has implemented the program of providing scholarships for the students who have passed the G.E.C. O/L exam and who need to be given relief in order to continue their education.

In the meantime, students who have passed the General Certificate of Education A Level Examination with top marks in the last two years have been selected at the district level and national level to provide financial assistance to those students. Accordingly, Rs. 31.5 million financial assistance has been given to 90 selected students.

The President’s Fund also implemented a program to provide financial and material assistance through the divisional secretaries of the island to uplift family units that are suffering from poverty but can engage in self-employment. Also, programs to provide monthly financial and material support through regional secretariats were successfully implemented in 2023 to identify family units suffering from poverty but unable to engage in self-employment or other work. Financial contribution has been provided for maintaining religious harmony as well as for religious activities and other social activities.

Meanwhile, in order to avoid unnecessary delays in the payment of medical aid, the application form for reimbursement of medical aid was updated and the necessary arrangements are being made to make payments within three working days for a medical aid application that is duly completed and delivered to the Presidential Fund without defects.

In 2022, a scholarship program commenced for G.E.C. exam-passed students. From each of the  education divisions across the island, students were selected. Monthly, within the first two days of work, funds are credited to their bank accounts, and SMS notifications are sent. Currently, these students have received 10 monthly instalments.

This year, another initiative began for high-achieving students facing financial challenges after passing the GCE (A/L).  Fifty students from one education division and a total of 5000 students from 100 education divisions are granted 6000 rupees monthly for 24 months to support their General Certificate of Education studies.

The Fund extended support through regional secretaries, aiding impoverished family units and implementing successful monthly assistance programs in 2023. Financial contributions were made for religious harmony and social activities.

Efforts are underway to swiftly provide warranty certificates for hospitalized patients undergoing surgery or treatment. Upon admission, hospitals will deduct the agreed-upon fund amount from medical bills, streamlining the process. Secretary Mr. Sarath Kumara ensures that a single visit to the President’s Fund is sufficient for patients, minimizing unnecessary calls or inconveniences.

Furthermore, a ceremonial event took place at the office premises yesterday, blessing the President’s Fund staff for their new-year duties in 2024.

Venerable Kirinde Assaji from the Hunupitiya Gangaramaya, Colombo, led the Pancha Sheela group in a solemn ceremony attended by dignitaries such as Secretary to the President Mr. Saman Ekanayake, Secretary to the Prime Minister Mr. Anura Dissanayake and others.

(President’s Media Division)

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Alka Yagnik diagnosed with “rare sensory hearing loss

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Veteran Bollywood singer Alka Yagnik, who revealed that she has been diagnosed with a “rare sensory hearing loss” due to a viral attack, has suffered a type of hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear or the nerve pathways that transmit sound from the ear to the brain.

According to Dr Manish Munjal, Vice Chairman, ENT, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi, sudden sensory hearing loss is a medical emergency as it can become irreversible if not aggressively treated in 48-72 hours.

“The centre of the problem is the inner ear organ called Cochlea, where it happens due to damage to the hair cells,” Munjal told IANS on Tuesday.

The causes may range from simple viruses like Herpes, Varicella, and Mumps or sudden loud exposure to noise levels above 85 decibel (dB).

Munjal also mentioned that this disorder may also result from more serious causes like painkiller overdose, chemotherapy, tumour compression, meningitis and stroke.

“The need of the hour is usually to rush to an ENT specialist to get the necessary ear examination done as well as get an audiometry test. Once diagnosed, the treatment may require a cocktail of antivirals, oral and intratympanic steroids, as well as rest from noisy environments,” he stated.

According to the doctor, once the treatment is initiated, the chances of recovery are usually 70 per cent and above.

The disorder affects only 1 per cent in bilateral ears as compared to single ear, Munjal noted.

(IANS)

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President apologizes over compulsory cremations during Covid-19 pandemic

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has apologized for making cremation compulsory during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“During this time there was a lot of pain, mainly felt not only by the Muslims, but also Hindus, Buddhists and Christians, I know who also prefer burial,” President Wickremesinghe said in Parliament.

He said that a committee appointed to look into the matter at the time had recommended cremation, a decision which was upheld by the Supreme Court as well. So, that had to be followed. There was no other alternative during that time, he said.

He assured that Sri Lanka will bring in a law that will allow the right of burial, right of cremation or gifting one’s body to medical institutions.

(Excerpts : dailymirror.lk)

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Postage stamp to be increased to Rs. 100 in July

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A proposal has been made to increase the price of an ordinary postage stamp to Rs. 100 by July, Mass Media Ministry Secretary Anusha Palpita said.

He told the Daily Mirror that the Postal Department is currently incurring an annual loss of Rs. 7,000 million.

“Last year, the loss was reduced to Rs. 3,200 million. However, with a salary increase for postal employees costing Rs. 2,800 million this year, the Postal Department’s loss will rise again to Rs. 7,000 million.” he said.

“If the losses continue to increase, it might reach Rs. 5 billion by 2025. Less than 1.5 million people use postage stamps, yet the entire country bears the burden of the Postal Department’s losses,” he added.

The price of a stamp was Rs. 15 until 2022, and the current price is Rs. 50.

“We are awaiting approval from the Treasury to raise the price of a postage stamp. This decision is necessary due to the ongoing losses of the Postal Department,” Palpita said.

(dailymirror.lk)

(This story, originally published by dailymirror.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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