02nd July 2021 13:00:57 Hours
The Sri Lanka Army, taking note of a set of GMOA unfounded accusations and false observations that have been published in social media platforms and Media on Thursday (1), complaining against the Army's committed supportive role in the national vaccination programme with focus on the Eastern province, wishes to place on record the following relevant facts since the GMOA, has erroneously stated about "post vaccination complications reported from Security Forces-managed East-based apparel industry vaccination centres", "unacceptable interferences'', "unacceptable conduct of work in haphazard manner", "forceful entry into MOH offices", " issue of vaccine stocks in ad hoc manner", etc while blaming the Security Forces in the East for lack of knowledge on 'logistics' and cooperation.
The GMOA with those contents, addressed the letter of complaint to the Secretary, Ministry of Health, copied to Hon Minister of Health and several other agencies, but did not have the courtesy of directing a copy, either to the relevant Head, National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) or to the Director, Preventive Medicine in the Army who maintains close coordination with Health authorities since the beginng of the island-wide vaccination project.
Firstly, the Army on the directive of HE the President as Head of the National Task Force for COVID-19 Control commenced the vaccination of tri service frontliners by 28 January 2021 after necessary guidelines and instructions were given by the Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, General Shavendra Silva in his capacity as Head, NOCPCO which is also manned with a separate Task Force of specialists.
Subsequently, following Presidential directives, the vaccination project of government's Health officials was supplemented further with manpower of the tri services, which included Specialists, Medical Officers, Nursing Staff and paramedical staff. As a result, Security Forces were entrusted with the task of vaccinating target groups, religious dignitaries, Parliamentarians, Administrators at different levels as advised by the NOCPCO Task Force in line with decisions arrived at by the Presidential Task Force.
In the most recent past, on a Presidential directive, the NOCPCO Task Force was requested to take charge of inoculating island-wide apparel industry employees as a BOI prioritized project, considering their contribution to the national economy. Accordingly, Security Forces in close consultation with the Army Directorate of Preventive Medicine on the directions of the Head, NOCPCO began the vaccination project in earnest on Poson Poya day (24 June), covering all apparel industries in Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaittivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Seethawaka, Koggala, Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Katunayake and Wathupitiwela areas and completed it in less than 48 hours.
This speedy vaccination project administered a record 59,898 vaccine vials to island-wide apparel employees within 48 hours, out of a consignment of 60,000 vials, provided to them by the Epidemiology unit at the Health Ministry. Before such inoculation for apparel employees got underway, medical teams of the Security Forces, including respective Division/Brigade Commanders as in all instances elsewhere too, did initiate planning discussions with respective East -based Regional Director of Health Services who is directly responsible to pass necessary guidelines and instructions down the line to their relevant Regional Epidemiologists, Medical Officers of Health, PHIs, et al.
Had any serious post-health complications developed among a limited number of garment employees, it was due to multiple reasons and had nothing to do with improper inoculations or any fault of Army medical teams as alleged by the GMOA. Medical teams of the Security Forces were engaged in this national drive purely to expedite the process and assist the government's plan of action in the wake of the looming deadly virus. Inferences made thereof as "ad hoc", " interferences" " absence of logistics" etc are totally untrue, baseless and would have been hatched with vested interests since a similar scenario was repeated in the East, no sooner than the lockdown was declared some time ago.
The Army therefore categorically denies all above-mentioned GMOA allegations and assures that it would carry on with entrusted national responsibilities in future too for the greater benefit of the Nation as per Presidential guidelines and would always continue to consult and liaise with respective Regional Directors of Health Services (RDHS) in all matters, related to COVID-19 control or vaccination as laid down specifically in Task Force guidelines. (Ends)