Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)
Dispute with Health Minister: PHIs pull out of all duties
In a face- off with Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, the 2,445- member Public Health Inspectors’ ( PHIs) Union has pulled out of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases control duties, inlcuding dengue control, while charging that the health guidelines gazetted with regard to the conduct of the parliamentary election were inadequate.
“We stopped COVID-19 work at 12.30 p.m. on Friday following a statement by the Health Minister and broadcast by media institutions, that ‘PHIs will not be vested with any power of authority to control COVID19 as we believe by doing so the general public is being harassed’,” PHI Union President Upul Rohana said.
He said they faced two major issues following such a statement. The people by now know that the PHIs do not have authority and would continue to violate the health guidelines and if the health authorities do not have confidence that the PHIs will not harass the public, they do not wish to continue with their work.
“We asked the health authorities before we took this decision. They denied this statement. Then we requested them to inform the media that they are denying this statement because we cannot serve the public if such a statement has been made,” he said.
With regard to the election guidelines that were gazetted under Sections 2 and 3 of the Quarantine and Disease Prevention Ordinance on Friday, he said the gazette was inadequate.
“This gazette only includes the guidelines that have to be followed but does not mention who will be enforcing them. There is no power vested on any authority to supervise the implementation of this gazette. A whole segment has been removed,” Mr. Rohana said .
He added that the PHIs would continue to perform their other duties except COVID-19 work.