Monday, 9 August 2004  
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Cancer hospital irregularities

I have been a frequent visitor to the Cancer hospital for the past two years. At times I have had to stay at the hospital. Cancer hospital is the only hospital that is well equipped in the whole island for this deadly disease.

Yet it is also a place for favouritism. Patients come from distant places like Jaffna and Anuradhapura. To visit the clinic, some of these patients come on the previous day and stay at the hospital. They are given lodging at the Buddhist shrine in the hospital for a nominal fee of Rs. 25. Some patients come at 5 o'clock in the morning on the same day. These patients are so poor that at times they don't even have a decent meal.

One has to be in their midst to understand the mental strain and suffering these people undergo. Words cannot explain their suffering. But some people are very selfish.

People who live within Colombo city limits come around 11.00 am. and they are attended to in no time whereas the helpless poor people wait from 5 o'clock in the morning. Some of these patients who come late have friends in the hospital who help them to see the doctor soon. Some of them come to the hospital and call the doctor to tell him that they are waiting out so that the doctor would call them in soon.

All the patients who come to the Cancer hospital whether rich or poor have personal commitments at home. But we should not be selfish and deprive others of their rights. Some people who are on chemotherapy are allowed to go home after treatment. After chemotherapy there is a tendency for the patient to vomit at short intervals. In such a state these patients who are poor have to travel several kilometres by bus. So when these patients are delayed at the clinic they have to go home late. The same thing happens even in the wards.

The corridors are crowded with patients sleeping on the floor due to lack of beds. Some are compelled to undergo chemotherapy by sleeping on the floor or seated in a chair. Yet when someone known to one of the nursing staff comes, even a patient who is on the bed is asked to leave in order to make the bed available for this VIP.

Even the toilets are reserved for certain patients. For a ward that houses around 50 patients or more, only two toilets are available. Out of that one is almost always blocked and not fit to be used. The VIPs are given the key to use the nursing staff's toilet.

This type of favouritism happens even in the lab, physiotherapy department, dispensary and so many other places. It is a pity to note that even in a situation where people are not even sure of survival, they still cling to their selfish desires and seek only to please themselves.

A. I. Gunatileke - Wellampitiya

Bridge over the railway line near Lake House

The photograph of the bridge over the railway line near Lake House published DN Aug. 4 highlights the lack of vision among our traffic planners.

This photo shows an unused span at the extreme right, now covered by billboard mountings. On the other side of the bridge, a temple has been built obstructing its entrance.

This span could have been easily used for a bypass lane linking Olcott Mawatha and Lotus Road. It could have been a fast lane, at least for light traffic, going from Pettah towards Galle Road, avoiding the congestion at the round-about opposite Lake House.

Even the temple could have been built on columns leaving room for traffic underneath, had the authorities responsible for the temple construction thought about it.

Dr. JANAKA RATNASIRI - Nawala

Epilepsy treatment

I came across a female patient aged 78 years on continuous treatment for almost 20 yrs for Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. She is being treated by a well-known Neuro Physician (Consultant). So many investigations done, so many drugs tried. But she continues to get fits. On a closer examination I found;

1) A month's stocks of drugs is kept with the patient - these drugs are to be taken at various times of the day in various doses.

2) The patient would administer the drugs herself at her will may be whenever she gets a headache or dizziness, or she may not like the various side effects of these drugs, quite unaware that sudden withdrawal of these Anti Epileptic drugs could precipitate fits.

In western countries soon after a consultation, the patient is immediately referred to the qualified nurse in the adjoining room who would then educate the patient facts about her illness. Nursing care if needed, what to do and what not to do, administration of drugs, their side affects etc.

This type of situation is sadly lacking in our consultation practice and the general practice as well.

Dr. N. G. D. KARANDANA - Getahetta

Unwanted bus section

The distance from Dehiwela to Wellawatte, and the distance from Dehiwela to Kalubowila hospital is about the same.

But strangely enough there is a section halt between the Dehiwala/Kalubowila section by the William grinding mills. We like to know if this is a sanctioned section halt or something created by the buses plying on this route.

C.C. - Moratuwa

Pramuka depositors still in the dark

Having deposited money in an account in Pramuka Bank, I waited expectantly for the bank to open in July 2004. Alas, the Central Bank is maintaining an ominous silence and keeping us in the dark. The bank is still closed. It is over 18 months back, that the Central Bank suddenly announced a suspension of this bank. It said that Pramuka Bank is suspended for two months only to safeguard depositors. I now wish to ask the present Director of Banking Supervision, have you safeguarded our deposits? Then please pay our money back to us.

I have the impression that the former Central Bank Management dished out a so called remedy to the Prmuka Bank, using a different spoon to what it served other banks which had difficulties. Are we wrong to expect the new authorities with the new Central Bank management (of course without the present Director of Banking Supervision) to approach the Pramuka Bank issue with more sagacity?

We have very clearly seen that Pramuka Bank was treated differently due to various reasons. Please do not let down the public. We relied on a Central Bank Supervised bank and deposited hard earned money. We are justified in asking the Central Bank to do more than what it has done to date, to solve this big financial problem.

Mano Gomes - Rajagiriya

Delay in pension arrears

It has been officially estimated that there are 400,000 Government pensioners in Sri Lanka. Majority of them are in the age range of 70 to 90 and in the evening of their lives. With their dependents the number is estimated at a minimum of 1.2 Million people of the country living in dire straits. These pensioners of the old guard, served the State very diligently and earned their pensions as a reward for their service.

These senior pensioners had their education in English medium and had to pay school fees and University fees for their education unlike the present day State officials who had the privilege of free education and Mahapola scholarships.

The pre 1994 pensioners were compelled to pay Income Taxes unlike the present day CAS officers. They are also provided free transport and free fuel at the expense of tax payers. The retired Senior Pensioners had to purchase vehicles on State loans which amounts were deducted from their monthly salaries making life difficult for them.

They were very dedicated officials unlike the present day officials most of whom are lotus eaters. If the present day Divisional Secretaries work efficiently the living conditions of the poor and the people's problems would be resolved very satisfactorily and the Government in power would not be embarrassed or gain unpopularity to bring into power at the next election.

The Ministry of Public Administration is responsible for deterioration of the public service.

The Divisional Secretaries of Galle, Gampaha, Katana and Maharagma were able to pay pension arrears for a large number in terms of the Director of Pensions circular issued in February 2004. Although five months have elapsed, the Dehiwela and Ratmalana Divisional Secretaries had been able to compute only about 100 files in five months and not paid a single pensioner. There are about 12,000 pensioners in these two divisions and they are planning a protest march from the Post Offices to the Secretaries offices on the next pension day.

At the current rate of progress, it will take three to five years to pay the arrears, by which time many of the 70-90 aged pensioners would be in their graves.

A. RATNASABAPATHY - Dehiwela

Main issue

It is hoped that a peaceful settlement, politically of the ethnic conflict will occur between the government and the LTTE as early as possible.

This being the main issue for the government and people of Sri Lanka towards the development and progress of the country, the cooperation of all is expected with the Government towards a settlement.

K. W. DIAS - Wellawatte

Of Walauwas....

Prof. Sunanda Mahendra's article Splitting image of the Walauwas in DN July 13 prompts me to write this. The mud-slinging and ridicule, that the Walawuwas (Aristocratic Homes) are subjected to, have sprung from jealousy and hatred in the minds of people who despise those who have something they do not have and something they cannot acquire.

Although they ridicule the name 'Walauwa', if they get a chance of buying a Walauwa long after the occupants are gone, they cling to the title and continue to use the name Walauwa. When such places are sold by property dealers, they advertise giving prominence to the word 'Walauwa' for prestige. If Walauwas are associated with murders, rape, torture etc. why do the commoners who are the new owners cling on to the title, long after the 'Walauwe Hamus' are gone? That is because they value the title and want their house to be called a Walauwa to show that they are of the aristocracy.

My SIL's family gave a number of old portraits of their ancestors to a shop for reframing and mounting. The shop owner died before they could collect them back. Later, when they asked the father of the shop owner for the portraits, they found that all of them have been taken by someone who claimed to be the 'owner'.

They lost portraits of two generations of their ancestors. Up to date nobody knows who stole the portraits or where they are, but in all probability, in a house of some new-rich, showing them as their ancestors! Haven't the people, who brand the Walauwas, ever heard of Walauwas whose occupants have led exemplary good lives, been honest and straight forward, done a yeoman service to the country, brought credit to the country, donated their wealth, helped the needy etc? I myself know of present day Walauwas to which the poor always go for every help they need, but people look at Walauwas with contempt.

Just because some people write fiction involving a Walauwa showing only a bad side, it is unfair and unjust to put all the actual Walauwas in the same category. Not only in a Walauwa, in all families, be it Walauwa or Commoner, any parent will object if the son/daughter gets involved in a love affair with someone well below their status. What about the sons and daughters of rich Walauwas who have married commoners or someone from poor families and have been accepted by the parents as their sons/daughters-in-law?

Take all the cases of murders, rape, torture, unlawful acts etc. in this country at present and in the past and see whether the majority of the criminals/offenders are from Walauwas. One might argue that the percentage of Walauwas is small. I would challenge anyone to do a survey/analytical study of all Walauwas as to their moral conduct and also those of the other families, before they try to tarnish the image of the Walauwas.

A. GUNARATNA - Thalawatugoda

Upgrading of Peliyagoda -Puttalam main road

We refer to the letter under above caption that appeared in the DN July 30.

While thanking M. Tissera for writing the above letter, we would be pleased if he could contact us by telephone (between 10 am and 10pm except Sundays and public holidays) to enable us to ascertain the exact locations of the defects highlighted by him.

Our telephone numbers are 2249193 and 4820129.

Resident Engineer - ADB Funded Road Network Improvement Project

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