Letters to the Editor

27th May 2001

Cheap and healthy 

Do you wish to slash your medical bills by as much as 70 to 80 percent? In the process would you also like to help Sri Lanka to slash its drug import bill and save not millions but billions of rupees in foreign exchange?

You could do this by buying any drug you need under the generic name instead of the highly expensive brand or trade name. Generic paracetamol costs only 30 cents a tablet, while under various brand names the prices range from Rs. 1.50 to 3.00 each.

It is a similar story with regard to antibiotics, painkillers and drugs used for common ailments. Generic diazepam costs less than 10 cents a tablet, while the medication under its brand name costs Rs. 4.

Medical research has clearly shown that there is no difference between the generic drug and the branded one.

The Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA) with a membership of more than 6000 doctors has promised to co-operate by prescribing drugs under their generic names.

So patients too should tell their family doctor or medical specialist to prescribe medicines under their generic names.

The same procedure should be followed at the pharmacy. Patients should not be persuaded or fooled into buying expensive brand names which the pharmacy may be promoting in collaboration with big drug companies.

If the pharmacy says it does not have the drugs under the cheaper generic names, patients should go to the nearest Osu Sala. The GMOA has proposed that more than 300 Osu Sala outlets be opened in all parts of the country.

Allenson de Silva
Action Committee on Justice for Patients

Can anyone hear me?

With reference to the comments of A. Kandappah (The Sunday Times of April 29), I wish to write about my experiences with Sri Lanka Telecom.

My phone (08-300877) has been out of order since March 29. I receive incoming calls, but cannot make outgoing calls. I informed SLT's 121 five times, No. 161, Akurana SLT Exchange, Katugastota SLT Exchange, Telecom Engineer Kandy and Chief Executive Officer SLT (by fax). But my efforts have been like playing the fiddle to a deaf elephant (white elephant?)

Someone from Telecom called several times and said my phone had been disconnected for non-payment of bills and told me very sarcastically to pay the bills instead of complaining. I have paid all the bills to the last cent. 

Telecom staff also changed my phone twice. If my phone has been disconnected what is the use of changing the instrument?

This is negligence, inefficiency and harassment of customers. The SLT white elephant needs a sharp goad to pull it out of deep slumber.

S. Rajapakse

Brutal ingratitude

As a Sinhalese Buddhist, I was shocked at the attack on Muslim properties, including mosques, at Mawanella and the adjoining villages by those who are supposed to be Sinhala Buddhists.

How foolish of them to have attacked Muslims who have through many centuries not only lived in perfect harmony with us, but also supported us in the wars against the Portuguese then and against the Tamil separatists in recent years. So much so that because they rejected the calls of the LTTE, over 75,000 Muslims were driven out of Jaffna overnight. The Tigers, angry with them because they refused to support Eelam, brutally murdered hundreds of them while they were at prayer.

What ingratitude by the Sinhalese? No wonder Tamil Net and other propaganda organs of the LTTE gave such publicity to the Mawanella riots, showing the world that we Sinhalese are intolerant. At the same time they are attempting to tell the Muslims "We told you so...."

I only hope the Muslims will believe that not all Sinhalese support such dastardly attacks.

Ananda Disanayake

Beyond the call of duty

I would like to share a heart-warming experience that runs counter to the many complaints about the delays and difficulties Sri Lankans experience when applying for visas to travel abroad. 

Recently, my wife and I received a telephone call from Chennai that my younger brother had passed away suddenly. As the only immediate family member, my presence was requested at the funeral. The first step was to obtain an emergency visa for India.

I rang the Indian High Commission and asked to be connected to a high official dealing with visas. I was put onto Mr. Chandran who listened patiently to my somewhat distracted request. He handled the matter with sympathy and speed and requested us to come to the High Commission and meet him personally.

We got to the High Commission by 2 p.m. and Mr. Chandran lost no time in looking through our papers and ordering the issue of our visas. Despite the High Commission's computers being down and the visa section having to handle a heavy workload, we received our visas by 3.15 p.m. the same day.

Our travel agent too, acted quickly and booked us on a SriLankan Airlines flight, leaving for Chennai early the following morning. We were in Chennai in time to attend my brother's funeral. It had been just 24 hours after receiving the first message. 

This was due to genuine and compassionate people, such as Mr. Chandran and the travel agency officer who helped us. They went beyond the call of duty to lend a helping hand.

Bennett Masillamoni

Killing nature's innocent beauty

As a lover of nature I was stunned by an advertisement inserted by a development bank.

It was very colourful and depicted three beautiful eggs in a nest. 

To a nature lover this is a picture to treasure and one would visualize the next stage of development in the form of nestlings. However, this picture is torn apart by the accompanying words: "Directions for use - can be consumed boiled, fried, scrambled, poached or raw. Ideal for cakes, desserts, confectioneries or as a source of new life forms under proper maternal care." The irony is that at the bottom of the notice is the message: "Care for the environment, our lives depend on it."

Is this development bank so naive to make a comment of this nature after detailing how nature's gift could be destroyed?

W.A. Dhanapala

Churchmen and statesmen

I write with reference to the article 'Chickera, Colombo's Bishop'by M. Lalsiri Fernando, Hony recorder of the Royal College Union in The Sunday Times of May 20.

By the time this letter is read, the Rt. Rev. Duleep Chickera would have been episcopally consecrated and enthroned as the 15th Bishop of Colombo.

The Anglican Church in Sri Lanka is grateful to Royal College for giving us five Bishops who have adorned this exalted Office, and, we have no doubt the present Bishop will follow suit.

As Mr. Fernando has correctly pointed out the premier Anglican boys' school has yet to produce a Bishop. Of course, my old school (Prince of Wales College) has produced a Bishop and, also given Royal their present Principal.

S. Thomas' the church school, has given Sri Lanka its first five Prime Ministers, whilst Royal, the state school has given the Church six Bishops.

The Church has given statesmen, and the State has given churchmen.

Isn't it a fair deal of which every one can be justly proud? May I in conclusion quote a line from my old school anthem, with a little variation of mine.

Among our ancient mountains
and, from our lovely valleys
Oh, let the prayer re-echo
God bless our New Bishop

Claude Fernando

Heart ache

I am a heart patient taking treatment from a reputed cardiologist in Colombo. Recently I was prescribed a cholesterol lowering drug named Atrovas 20 mg, which is Rs. 90 a tablet. I was asked to take one tablet a day. 

Being a retired government servant, I could not afford to buy this drug and when I checked with Osu Sala I was told that another brand is available for half the price. This is from an equally reputed manufacturer from India.

When I asked the pharmacist why the doctor had not prescribed the cheaper medication, he told me that doctors try to promote companies from which they gain benefits like foreign trips.

It is clear that poor patients are the victims of doctors' greed. Why do these doctors prescribe drugs without taking the cost into account?

Pharmaceutical companies take advantage of such heartless doctors to make money at the cost of poor patients.

S.M. Senevirathne


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