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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Militarisation of Covid prevention in Sri Lanka: GMOA warns of repercussions

The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) yesterday informed the Health Ministry that security forces continued to interfere with the anti COVID-19 activities carried out by the health officials. Security forces carried out vaccination programmes across the country in an ad hoc manner and that would lead to confusion, the GMOA added.

GMOA Secretary Dr. Senel Fernando said that the GMOA representatives from the East had informed that security forces were meddling with the vaccination programme as well.

“They interfere with the work of our colleagues in numerous ways. We are concerned about two things. One is the unacceptable involvement of the security forces in the COVID 19 vaccination programme in the Eastern Province and the other is some military officers’ unauthorized entry into vital Health Care Institution such as Medical Officers of Health (MOH) Offices.”

The GMOA Secretary added that Epidemiology Unit, on the directions of higher authorities, was still issuing vaccine to the armed forces, which were conducting vaccination programmes all over the country.

Dr. Fernando added that the Army had conducted a vaccination programme targeting garment factories in Dehiattakandiya recently without seeking the assistance of health officers in the area for the supervision of the programme.

“Around 10% of those who received the jab there reported vaccine-related adverse effects. This is an unreasonably high number for COVID-19 vaccination,” Dr. Fernando said.

The GMOA Secretary said that Sri Lanka only had a limited amount of vaccines and what the security forces were doing could disrupt the scheduled vaccination programmes.

“We asked Dr Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Health to take up the issue with relevant authorities and rectify the current situation. Prompt action will ensure smooth functioning of vaccinations and other healthcare services in the Eastern province.

Meanwhile Army Spokesman Brigadier Nilantha Premaratne said that it was the first time that anyone had complained about the Army’s involvement in the vaccination or COVID-19 prevention programmes.

Brig. Premaratne said that the Board of Investments had asked the Army to help it vaccinate garment workers across the country and that the Army had inoculated many workers in Seethawaka, Habaraduwa, Katunayake, Biyagama and Kandy.

“Moreover, we have always consulted Regional Directors of Health Services before vaccinating. So. it is not correct to say that we do not consult regional health officers. In the areas we carried out vaccination programmes in the East, no one else had been active,” he said. The Army is to issue a full statement on the matter today (02.)

The Island


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