Keheliya raps Local authorities, Environment Ministry for dengue menace
*Health Ministry being unfairly targeted
*200,000 dengue cases reported in the last six months


by Zacki Jabbar

Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said yesterday, that the local government authorities and Environment Ministry were more responsible for the dengue menace, than the Health Ministry.

He told the weekly Cabinet press briefing in Colombo, that the blame for the spread of dengue was being directed at the Health Ministry. But, that was wrong because it was the duty of the local authorities and Environment Minstry to deal with the problem on a daily basis.

"The Health Ministry has a preventive role to play. However, it is the local bodies and Environment Ministry that would have a first hand knowledge of dengue breeding areas in villages. So, it is they who should act first. I think it is unfair to place the blame on the Health Ministry."

Rambukwella said that 200,000 dengue cases had been reported in the last six months.

Seventy five local government areas, where the highest incidence of dengue had been reported, have been selected to conduct awareness campaigns from August 16 to 22, he said.

Rambukwella said that the Cabinet of Ministers approved a proposal by President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his capacity as Defence Minister, to provide a sum of Rs. 810 million over a period of three years for the Army to construct a building for the Medical Faculty, at the Sir John Kotelawala Defence University.

The enlistment of 25 officer cadets to overcome the acute shortage of medical staff at the Kotelawala Defence University Faculty of Medicine, also received Cabinet approval, he said.

Among the other decisions taken by the Cabinet, he said was to appoint a committee to formulate a National Drug Policy and amend the Animals Act No. 29 of 1958, to prohibit the slaughter of pregnant and lactating cows.

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