Environment, health sectors go hand in hand - Minister Maithripala
Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa presided yesterday when Parliament met at
9.30 am. After the presentation of papers and oral questions Parliament
took up the debate on the third reading of the Appropriation Bill 2011.
The financial heads of the Health Ministry, Indigenous Medicine
Ministry, Child Development and Women’s Affairs Ministry, Social
Services Ministry, Environment Ministry were taken up for debate.
*Sajith Premadasa (UNP): One of the most significant sectors
for the public is the Health sector. When we consider the health service
the service is not commendable in many hospitals. There is a
deterioration in the services provided by Primary Healthcare
institutions. Those institutions can play a major role in controlling
chronic non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, health diseases,
high blood pressure etc. Fifteen percent of the population in the
country is suffering from diabetes while 30 percent is suffering from
High blood pressure. The allocations made for the primary healthcare
institution is not adequate.
It is commendable that the maternal mortality rate is reduced from 58
to 35 for 1000 births from 2005 to 2007.
The Government has to focus on the fact that 25.2 percent of the
children in Sri Lanka are suffering from anaemia. Measures should be
taken to provide them with iron-rich foods.
*Wimal Weerawansa (Construction and Engineering Services, Housing
and Common Amenities Minister): The Deputy UNP Leader had stated to
an English language newspaper that an investigations should be made into
war crimes against Sri Lanka but Sajith Premadasa stated his opposite
view to another newspaper.
*Sajith Premadasa (UNP): My stance is that war crimes have
been committed only by the LTTE.
*Anura Priyadarshana Yapa (Environment Minister): The
constitution has provisions to protect and preserve the environment. Now
Sri Lanka as a tropical country experiences heavy rains and European
countries heavy snow falls. It is accepted that we have to save the
We have initiated a program to double the national income and
maintain the development growth rate at 8 percents. The Government has
reached a policy decision to reach sustainable development while
preserving the environment.
The Deputy UNP Leader had stated to an English language newspaper
that an investigation must be made to incidents involving war crimes in
Sri Lanka and Sajith Premadasa stated through the Sinhala media an
The UNP is attempting to create two different images one to Sri Lanka
and another to the international community. Then they speak of
developing the country while trying to make the country politically
As long as the UNP maintain this double standard policies they can’t
bring about the development they are talking of and also they don’t have
This Government under Mahinda Chintanaya has initiated many projects
at rural level to preserve the environment while achieving development
The industrially developed nations all over the world have added
pollutants to the environment for 200 years affecting the entire
environment. Even today many nations gathered in Mexico are attempting
to formulate a solution to these issues. But the capitalist countries,
that are held in esteem by the UNP, always hinder the search for a
solution to those issues.
The government is attempting to formulate a mechanism to recycle
Money is allocated for reforestation schemes to be initiated in the
The government’s “Deyata Sevana” project that was planned to plant
1,100,000 saplings across the country was remarkably successful. There
are statistics that show 3,500,000 saplings were planted during 11
minutes. We hope to continue that project. The support extended by the
media for that project was commendable.
We have formulated a mechanism to recycle all electronic waste from
mini batteries to computers.
P Harison (UNP): The condition of the Anuradhapura Hospital is
very poor. Most of the hospitals have no required medicines. People come
to general hospitals with high hopes. But when they are asked to buy
panadol from the pharmacy they become helpless. If this is the condition
in general hospital, what is the use of free medical service in the
As a person who hails from a village we see that the Health Minister
is taking a huge effort to solve the problems in this sector. We
About one third of the children in this country suffer from
Malnutrition. This is stated in the UNICEF report. One out of four women
in the country also suffers from Malnutrition. This is a serious
The vehicle emission test is operating in an very inefficient manner.
I request the Environment Minister to look into it.
*Indigenous Medicine Deputy Minister Pandu Bandaranayaka: The
President in the Mahinda Chinthana policy mentions that preservation and
bestowing the knowledge of indigenous medicine is a duty granted to him
by history. I strongly believe that this duty can be fulfilled
Sometimes illnesses that cannot be cured through western medical
treatment are cured by indigenous medical treatment.
We initiated an Indigenous Medical Week and many activities are
planned for this week.
The cultivation of herbal plants is given prominence and a large sum
of money is utilized in this work. A program called ‘Tikiri Herbal Plant
Gardens’ is carried out in this regard.
Many do not consider this Ministry as important. But it has many more
duties and capacities. It is a Ministry that has been prevailing even
during the time of our kings.
We have declared an aryurvedic zone and hope to attract more tourists
into this zone.
Even foreign investors have come forward to support this sector. We
hope to promote local food items as food consumption practices can
prevent many illnesses without depending on medicine all the time. We
have now taken measures to use rice flour instead of wheat flour in
making various food items including bread.
A program is also continuing to the purchase of herbal plants. A
program to import necessary indigenous medicine is also given
*Maithripala Sirisena (Health Minister): When compared with
other countries in the region, Sri Lanka has succeeded in achieving the
determinants and indices set by the World Health Organization (WHO)for
health. A large number of health indices including the life expectancy
of our people have been highly appraised by the International Community.
Arrangements are being made to launch the National Drug Policy next
year. It is a very complex and challenging task.
Measures have been taken to establish the National Drug Regulatory
Council next year to streamline the drug business, which is currently
reported with many malpractices and corruptions.
*Shivashakthi Anandan (TNA):
*Wanni people badly affected by floods
The people in Wanni have been badly affected by floods due to heavy
rains in the country. They have suffered much from lack of food, shelter
and cloths. Therefore, it is necessary to provide them the required
Hospitals in the North should be uplifted with required facilities
including drugs, CT scan machines, ambulances and other medical
The drainage systems are in a dilapidated condition in each hospital.
The shortage of doctors and nurses are another problem prevailing in
Most of the hospitals are functioned with inadequate staff. There are
a number of widows, disabled and elders in the region. There should be a
meaningful program by the Government to enhance their living standards.
*Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle UPFA:
Sri Lanka gets top place for excellent health service
Sri Lanka while presently supplying a free health service to its
citizens, have arrived at a prime position among countries in the South
Asian Region that sustain the excellent health service.
The Ministry has taken steps to eliminate malnutrition. But there
should be a proper coordination among every stakeholder to avert this
problem. In order to reduce malnutrition, the livestock industry and the
agriculture sector should be improved.
It is praiseworthy that collective efforts made by the UNDP, UNICEF
and Sarvodaya to provide nutritional supplements to children in welfare
centres in the North.
It is also necessary to provide iron supplements to small children to
Threeposha supplements too should be provided to lactating and
pregnant mothers and small children without interruption.
*Ajith P Perera (UNP):
More women should be law makers
Women’s rights should be upheld in the country. Our mother, wife and
sister play a significant role in society. In Sri Lanka, the women’s
contribution is very less in decision-making when compared to other
countries. Women’s representation in politics is also at a very low
level. We know that it is mentioned in the Constitution that all are
equal, irrespective of gender. Therefore, when the laws are amended,
special attention should be paid for women. It is necessary to provide
more opportunities to women so that they could get elected to provincial
councils and Parliament by each political party.
About 57 Hela Veda Gedara (Indigenous Medicine Centres) are to be
established all over the country. About 30 of them have been already
We have implemented a program in collaboration with embassies to
promote indigenous medicine.
*Deputy Chairman of Committees Chandrakumar Murugesu takes the
*Asok Abeysinghe (UNP): The financial allocations made in this
budget for the Health sector is not sufficient. Only about Rs 13,000
million is allocated for the importation of medicine. Sometimes even the
allocated money is not properly distributed.
From this budget, the Port and Airport tariff is removed from
This benefit should reach the ordinary people. About 2,000
Thalassemia patients are recorded in the country. About Rs. 300,000 –
400,000 is necessary to take care of one Thalassemia patient.
About 60-65 new Thalassemia patients add annually. But no money is
allocated for their welfare in this budget.
People are deceived by food supplements imported to the country which
are sold at very high prices. It is claimed that these food supplements
contain various vitamins.
The attention of the relevant authorities should be drawn regarding
*Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena: Prominent attention is
given to the Health Sector by this government. Both environment and
health sectors go hand in hand.
Even though there are some weaknesses our health sector is ranked
high in the world. We have maintained high standards. Due to our better
position several foreign countries have requested for establishing a
regional cooperative institute in our country to train doctors.
Our research sector is also very advanced. Many researches are being
done in our labs and positive results achieved.
We are highly concerned about the nutrition level of our children and
women. We hope to reach better conditions in the Health sector.
Malnutrition problem have a history of about 30-40 years. The
importation of unhealthy foods and the collapse of local food production
have also helped towards the increase in malnutrition.
*Social Services Senior Minister Milroy Fernando continues:
Floral gardening should be uplifted. Women should be encouraged in this
work. More facilities should be given to those who engage in it.
*Thalatha Athukorala (UNP): All the Ministers appointed to
Ministries that we take up for debate today are efficient and capable.
They try to do something and when mistakes are pointed out they pay
attention to them.
I would like to pay attention to the Gem Industry. This is a world
renouned industry. About 50,000 people are directly involved in this
industry in Ratnapura. Many more people are involved in this industry
There are many problems in issuing gem mining licences. Those who
engage in gem mining have to go to the head office to obtain the
licence. The previous method of giving licences is changed now. I
request that the obstacles faced by these people be looked into.
*Indigenous Medicine Minister Salinda Dissanayaka: I express
my gratitude to all those who spoke about the indigenous medicinal
sector today. ‘Ayurveda’ means the science of living a long life.
*Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody takes the chair
*Salinda Dissanayaka continues: Ayurvedic medicine has a long
history in the world as well as in the country. Some say that we
inherited it from the ancient period and some say we received it from a
Indigenous medicine was brought to attention by SWRD Bandaranaike
after independence. It is President Mahinda Rajapaksa who paid attention
to this sector after the Bandaranaike period.
Over 200 institutions are involved in indigenous medicine. About 3
million people obtain the services of indigenous medicine annually.
About 25,000 people are admitted to hospitals to obtain Ayurveda
treatment. There are over 20,000 registered indigenous medical doctors
in the country. Indigenous medicine is a good solution to those who are
tired of following Western medical treatment.
Cultivation of herbal plants is important. I suggest that a separate
institution be established in this regard. Sometimes medical herbs are
imported to the country spending a large sum of money.
The renovation work of Navinna Research Institute will be completed
as soon as possible. Some foreign agencies have acquired patents for our
valuable herbal plants. This process should be prevented.
A program to preserve traditional medical systems should also be
I think a national food consumption policy should be introduced. Our
people fall ill and their health conditions deteriorate as a result of
consuming unhealthy and non-nutritious food sold in various food
The research sector is also encouraged and more facilities will be
given to those who are involved in it.
*Wasantha Aluvihare (UNP): I would like to pay attention to
few points relevant to the Health sector. We see that the Health
Minister strive hard to improve this sector. Therefore we see that most
problems in this sector will be solved within the year 2011. We also see
that the Health Minister did not raise any criticism against the
Opposition for pointing out mistakes. We see that he has divided his
powers among Provincial officers too aiming for an efficient service. We
appreciate his attempt.
Financial allocations for the Health sector in the Central Province
is not adequate. Matale General Hospital has a shortage of medicines.
There should be a proper management of financial allocations given to
the Health Sector. I strongly believe that under Minister Maithripala
Sirisena this management will be handled in a correct manner.
*A H M Azwar takes the Chair Thilanga Sumathipala (UPFA)
I would like to pay more attention to the environment as a person who
lives in the city. About 1000 metric tonnes of garbage are collected by
Colombo Municipal Council daily. Since there is no proper waste
management system, the Council had been filling lands by dumping waste.
But is small and our lands have high value. Therefore land filling is
not a solution to this problem.
Today, we see that the Environment Minister understands the
seriousness of this issue. He has made a solid plan to solve this
problem. He has initiated a collective method to solve this problem and
we wish that he can find a better solution through this program. The
quality of the air should also be checked.
*National Assets Senior Minister Piyasena Gamage :
I would like to pay attention to indigenous medicine in the country.
Necessary publicity should be given to promote indigenous medicine and
people should be made aware of its values.
We initiated a project to broadcast a one minute program on TV and
radio about the medicinal value, importance and use of herbal plants.
This helped to build the image of the Indigenous Medicine Ministry.
We also initiated ‘Herbal Plant Garden’ projects in schools. Through
this we could improve the knowledge of schoolchildren about our
indigenous medicinal plants.
We also encouraged our indigenous community to grow herbal plants.
Through them we could meet the demand for herbal plants. I express my
gratitude to those who assisted me in my work when I was holding the
responsibility of this ministry. I also express my best wishes to the
new Minister and Deputy Minister.
*Ajith Kumara (DNA)
As a concept the government upholds that the Provincial Councils
should be strengthened and the powers be divided. However it is the
provincial health institutions that face many difficulties in the
country. The allocations made for the upliftment of provincial health
institutions are not sufficient.
So how can the Provincial Councils maintain the hospitals under them?
Many important hospitals come under Provincial Councils. The needs of
these hospitals should be satisfied.
The dengue menace still prevails in the country. There are 33,000
dengue patients reported upto November this year. Therefore, it is
necessary to streamline and expand the dengue combat program allocating
sufficient financial provisions on behalf of the people of this country.
The Government is still engaged in importing drugs from foreign
companies which are black listed. This is very dangerous.
It harms the lives of the people. It is reported that 38 percent of
drugs imported to the country are not upto standard.
*Dr Rohana Pushpakumara (UPFA): The health sector in Sri Lanka
has achieved a significant place in providing free health service to the
It has given a prominent place in the financial heads of the
Government and allocated necessary funds to meet the health requirements
of the ordinary people. The infant mortality rate has gone down while
low-weight at birth has shown a decline. The Malaria menace has already
been eliminated. Dengue menace is being controlled successfully with the
assistance of all segments of society. As a whole, the health sector is
maintained at a satisfactory level.
*No concessions for war widows - Chandrani Bandara (UNP)
Child Development and Women’s Affairs Ministry has been given
step-motherly treatment. It has not been allocated sufficient funds
through this Budget to carry out new programs in developing children and
women in Sri Lanka. The cost of living has tremendously increased in the
recent past especially women undergo great hardships due to an increase
of the CoL.
The Government has not provided any concession to widows of Security
It is necessary to launch a meaningful program to uplift the living
conditions of these widows.
*Child Development and Women’s Affairs Deputy Minister M L A M
We are responsible in setting the stage for children and women of
this country to live safely, contentedly and free of bondage. We intend
to provide care, welfare and upliftment of children and women socially,
economically, culturally through the development activities set and
implemented for the year 2010.
We have planned to implement new development programs for the benefit
of women and children with the intention of realizing those valued
*Vijayakala Maheshwaran (UNP): Affairs of women and children
should be given more consideration. There are many widows due to the war
that prevailed in the North and East.
There are no proposals to upgrade their living conditions through
this budget. Self-employment should be promoted through women’s
societies in these areas. Even I am a widow. Therefore, I know the
difficulties encountered by them.
There are a large number of children who have lost their parents.
Their needs should be understood and urgent measures taken to look after
There are so many deficiencies in the hospitals in these areas. A
health camp should be conducted for them weekly. About 35,000 people in
Killonochchi and Mullaitivu are affected due to floods these days.
*S Alantin (UPFA): Some say that the money allocated for defence
is too much. But today, we have been capable of creating a peaceful
environment in the North and East.
They are now living without fear. There is much development work to
be done in these areas. Health facilities in the area should be
Since it is a resettled community, there is a lack of human resources
and other necessary facilities in hospitals. I request the Minister to
pay more attention to these hospitals.
During the war, even Sinhala doctors provided services in these
areas. The continuation of their services should be ensured for the
welfare of the people.
Consultation and counselling programs should be conducted for
children and women in these areas. The President has paid special
attention to children in these areas and which is highly appreciable.
There is a considerable number of disabled people and necessary
facilities should be given to them.
Population growth rate in Sri Lanka is about 1 percent- Minister
Chief Govt Whip requests for inquiry
Chief Government Whip and Water Supply and Drainage Minister Dinesh
Gunawardena requested the Speaker to investigate if a person paid by
Parliament could make a statement to the media in connection with
behaviour of Members.
Minister made this request in connection with a point of order raised
by UPFA Parliamentarian during the committee stage debate of
Appropriation Bill 2011. A H M Azwer stated that a person paid by
Parliament has made a statement to media in connection with behaviour of
Parliament Members and it was against the standing orders. Early
childhood care development programs a must
*Social Services Minister Felix Perera: I am glad to speak
about the Social Services Ministry and I also take this opportunity to
thank my predecessor in this Ministry Douglas Devananda who continues to
hold the duties of this Ministry even enduring 16 attempts on his life.
It is seen that our life expectancy is increasing and as a result the
older community is increasing in numbers.
Some countries have cancelled pensions due to this growth of the
We have to reconsider about the decision to amend the retirement age.
The population growth has been gradually decreasing due to various
reasons such as birth control methods. The population growth rate in Sri
Lanka is about one percent.
It is expected that by 2050, the elderly population will be 50
percent of the total population.
We have to look into the needs of disabled people rather than just
sympathising with them. A proper program for beggars should also be
We meet blind people. There are about 170,000 blind people in the
country. A program to socialise them is being implemented and public
should be made aware of the reality about them.
Even though they are blind, they have many other talents and skills.
The President has allocated a large sum of money to the social
service sector understanding the importance of this subject.
It is not our aim to develop Elderly Homes, but we have to arrange
suitable conditions to look after them.
*Deputy Chairman of Committees Chandrakumar Murugesu takes the
*Abdul Haleem (UNP): There is no doubt that the conclusion of
war is everybody’s fortune. What is remaining is a development battle.
There are many challenges in the Health sector and we believe that
Minister Maithripala Sirisena is the most suitable person to hold the
responsibilities of this Ministry to cope with these challenges.
There is a flood threat in the Akurana region. Some unauthorized
constructions were removed in this area, but the problem was not solved.
The area goes under water even after a six hours rain. I would like
to bring this to the notice of Environment Deputy Minister Abdul Cader.
*Vidura Wickramanayake (UPFA): The Health Minister is making a
huge effort to defeat the existing mafias in this sector while providing
a better service to the public.
I request the Health Minister to provide more facilities to
Many tourists are in the country seeking indigenous medical
treatment. But there is no proper plan to promote it. The benefits of
indigenous treatment which are highly valued by tourists should be
granted to local people too.
In a Buddhist country with a Buddhist civilization, there should not
be a greater number of elderly homes. The damage of environmental
disasters is very serious. In a way, I am happy that even Parliament
went under water, because attention of the relevant authorities will be
directed towards these problems.
*Hospitals lack proper facilities – Yoheswaran
*S Yoheswaran (TNA): There are many deficiencies in hospitals
in our area. The teaching hospital has no proper facilities and the
human resources are also not adequate. Even the transport facilities are
The Batticaloa Hospital has no sufficient space. The accident ward
should be upgraded. Due to the increasing number of vehicles in the
Eastern Province, the number of accidents have also increased.
Therefore, medical facilities should also be improved. We appreciate
the work initiated under Dengue Prevention Campaigns. But the programs
to make people aware about dengue are not adequate.
*Environment Deputy Minister Abdul Cader: First I would like
to take this opportunity to thank the President for placing his faith on
me to vest the responsibilities of this Ministry as the Deputy Minister.
We have implemented Haritha Lanka Program around the country. This
program has targeted 10 broader aspects.
This program ensures sustainable development in the country while
removing barriers for development.
We have also looked into the solid waste management and the
inauguration of 2nd stage of pilisaru waste management program.
It is a huge initiative taken by the Ministry. As a pilot project to
develop environment friendly products we have published an environment
diary and have distributed among grade 3 students in 26 schools.
We have also taken measures to develop a national climate change
This is nearing its completion and has reached the final stage.
*Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody takes the Chair.*
*Chandrasiri Suriyarachchi (Social Services Deputy Minister):
Initiatives have been taken to operate a mobile service by the Social
Services Ministry in the Kurunegala district. President Mahinda
Rajapaksa has allocated Rs 8,000 million for construction of houses for
war heroes and their welfare.
*Lalith Dissanayake (Deputy Minister of Health): Sri Lanka is
one of the best countries that provide free health services. When such a
free service is provided few mistakes could be occurred. The
Government’s stance is to extend the free health service further. The
Mahinda Chinthanaya noted it clearly. The financial heads were passed
*Y G Pathmasiri (UPFA): Early childhood care development
programs should be conducted bringing together experts of childhood
development including related institutions and parties for a expeditious
and fruitful functioning of all sorts of early childhood development
services in Sri Lanka.
Introducing standards of early childhood care and development,
formulating standards to reach targets of early childhood programs and
working out standards of pre-school teachers, should be included in this
*How are detained children to attend school?
*P. Ariyanethran (TNA):
Over 50 women and children are detained in camps in the North. Please
take measures to release them and provide them with better living
conditions. How are these children going to school when they are
A number of deformed children who are affected by the war are living
in the North and East. They are presently looked after by their parents
and relatives. Still, the Government has not formulated any programs to
improve their livelihoods.
*We have attained much under Chinthana banner
Tissa Karalliyadda (Child Development and Women’s Affairs
We were able to do a lot in the previous months, under the banner of
the Mahinda Chinthanaya new vision in developing children and women
through new programs.
Accordingly, we have embarked upon a series of new programs in all
areas, including North and East.
*Gamini Jayawickrama Perera (UNP):
There is a big demand from foreigners for our indigenous medicinal
treatment. It is an accepted fact that medicinal preparations made using
natural plants are more beneficial to health than other alternative
treatment methods. The country has a conducive climate and geological
conditions to grow herbal plants. The Nawinna Research Centre must be
upgraded with the latest facilities to conduct research.
*The House was adjourned until 9.30 am today.