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Wednesday September 27th, 2023

Sri Lanka’s ayurvedic hospital staff protest medicine shortages, corruption

ECONOMYNEXT – Staff at Sri Lanka’s Ayurveda Teaching Hospital in Borella held a demonstration to bring attention to several issues including medicine shortages faced by Ayurvedic practitioners around the island and to protest systemic corruption.

The protest, held on Friday August 19 was on behalf of several groups including the Sri Lanka Government Ayurveda Medical Officers’ Association, the All Ceylon Nurses’ Union and All Ceylon Ayurveda Health Service Union.

“There are no medicines in the Ayurveda hospitals. If we need 100, we only have 20. Doctors have to give close substitutes or sometimes turn patients away empty handed,” said protest organiser P D N S J Bandara.

Bandara said that despite having the capability to produce medicines locally, the government’s lack of planning meant that 90 percent of raw materials for Ayurvedic medicines had to be imported.

“We have around 5 Osu Uyan (medicinal herb gardens) in Sri Lanka, but the government has always come between development of those areas, preventing experimentation. All the medicines we need can be produced in the country, but because there are no proper policies, the gardens have been neglected and become forests,” he said.

The hospital had to campaign hard for funds to provide meals for patients who were admitted there, Bandara said.

“The people coming here are not rich people; but when they get admitted we can’t even feed them. There was a time when patients only had rice and gravy.”

Bandara alleged that funding was not getting through to hospitals.

“If we are allocated 600 million, we end up seeing only 100 million. This is the economic policy of this country.”

While Sri Lanka has a bloated public sector, Bandara said that Ayurvedic hospitals were critically understaffed to the point that it was almost impossible to function.

“This is because for 10 years no new recruitments have been made properly at the Ayurvedic hospitals. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is saying there are too many state workers. Do they think we are getting paid in dollars? We are only getting a very poor salary, compared to the rest of the Asian region.”

Similar protests were being carried out in front of Ayurveda hospitals in Kurunegala, Pallekele, Ratnapura, Kegalla, Meegoda and the Chamal Rajapaksha Ayurveda Hospital in Hambantota, Bandara said. (Colombo/Aug19/2022)

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Sri Lanka to introduce social security system: minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Labour minister has said that they are set to introduce a comprehensive national social security system, covering all workers.

“The system will address the weaknesses of the current system and provide much-needed support to workers and their families,” Manusha Nanayakkara, Minister of Labour and Foreign Employment said on X (formerly known as Twitter).
He did not specify the details.

Nanayakkara also spoke of the need for robust social security when he met with exporters last week to discuss labor law reforms, boosting female workforce participation and attracting FDI.

Sri Lanka plans to reform labour laws for an export-oriented economy.

The pandemic and the economic crisis highlighted the need to improve the coverage of social security.

Studies have shown that Sri Lanka’s women are kept out of formal employment by childcare, elderly care and housework, as day care and elderly homes are either too expensive or too few.

The government imposed a Social Security Contribution Levy to increase its revenue last year. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka’s stocks up in trading on Wednesday morning

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka shares were picking up in trading on Wednesday morning.

Turnover was at 50 million. Trading in the Capital Goods Industry Group was driving turnover.

The All Share Price Index was up 0.37 percent or 41.78 points to 11,289.94, while the S&P SL20 was also up 0.68 percent or 21.66 points to 3,187.65.

Hatton National Bank, Commercial Bank and LOLC saw gains in morning trade, while Tokyo cement and Lanka Hospitals were trading down during morning trading. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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Sri Lanka rupee opens at 323.50/324.10 to the US dollar, bond yields stable

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee opened at 323.50/324.10 to the US dollar on Wednesday, after closing on Tuesday at 323.70/324.20 to the US dollar, dealers said.

A bond maturing on 01.08.2026 was quoted at 15.50/70 percent on Wednesday up from Tuesday’s close at 15.45/65 percent.

A bond maturing on 01.05.2028 was quoted at 14.50/55 percent from closing at Tuesday at 14.30/55 percent. (Colombo/Sep27/2023)

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