Plight of senior citizens in Kotte waiting under the  blazing sun for the vaccine It is past 12 noon on a blazing hot Saturday in the country’s administrative capital Sri Jayawardenepura, Kotte. Hundreds of people are awaiting the COVID-19 vaccine in a queue running for miles round the MOH premises. Most of them are over [...]


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Plight of senior citizens in Kotte waiting under the  blazing sun for the vaccine

It is past 12 noon on a blazing hot Saturday in the country’s administrative capital Sri Jayawardenepura, Kotte. Hundreds of people are awaiting the COVID-19 vaccine in a queue running for miles round the MOH premises.

Most of them are over 60 years of age, some going on to 70s and 80s with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, kidney dysfunctions, and general debilitations of the aging populace. It is on average seven hours since they commenced waiting in the queue outside the MOH premises for their inoculation during which time they experience the complete lack of social distancing, blazing sun and carbon monoxide fumes from passing vehicular traffic, curtailment of bladder and bowel movements due to absence of toilet facilities nearby, fasting in respect of those who have not carried their breakfast and lunch on this ‘Vaccine Picnic’, hypoglycemia in people who are on diabetic medication and need to have their meals on time and dehydration and subsequent fainting in the unrelenting heat and dust of the wayside streets and byroads where the interminable queue winds its way.

There are those who have the patience of Job and stick out the seven – eight hours of waiting for the sake of getting vaccinated. Others drive off or walk away disappointed to face yet another day sans the vaccination.

The plight of these people is worsened by the sudden change in the policy of the authorities on the morning of the inoculation (27/2/21) to expand the target group to include all those above 30. The hundreds of old people above the age of 60 who were informed the previous day that vaccinations would commence only for their age group are now surrounded by a huge mass of young and middle-aged each vying with the other by hook or by crook to get an advanced position in the queue.

According to the press release from the College of Physicians Sri Lanka “The decision of the Ministry of Health to initiate vaccination targeting the individuals of 30 to 60 years that was implemented in a few selected communities is a clear deviation from the scientifically agreed prioritization stated in the National Vaccine Deployment Plan. This strategy is neither an evidence-based practice, nor a public health decision considering the wider public health and economic outcomes, and it totally derails the COVID-19 preventive activities in the country, dangerously undermining the public health response to COVID-19 especially with regard to the objective of reduction of complications and deaths due to COVID-19.”

The College of Community Physicians – the country’s premier body of public health specialists has decried the departure from the agreed National Vaccine Deployment Plan for COVID-19 vaccination in January 2021.  They state “This plan was approved by the Ministry of Health and conveyed to all stakeholders including the World Health Organization. Considering the fact that there will be very limited amount of vaccines in 2021, this approved vaccine deployment plan has listed the priority groups for vaccination. These priority groups included frontline health staff, those front line staff in the security forces and the Police, elderly over 60 years of age, those with co-morbidities and high risk groups in economically important and essential service/institutions.”

To add insult to injury, there are shortages of forms to be filled by applicants on site,  vaccines running out of stock which in turn lead to delays of many hours. Nepotism and cronyism in practice with friends and relatives of those with connections gaining easy entry to the premises over those who are waiting patiently outside on the roads leading to the MOH premises and relatively few checkpoints at the entrance to the premises where the vaccines are being administered! Consequently, many young gate-crashers abound while the weary, old people in the queue look on in helpless angst!

It appears the Government’s performance is disappointing! The sheer hypocrisy of the earlier assertion of politicians that they would not avail themselves of the scarce COVID-19 vaccine until all priority groups have been served is now debunked.

N.Ilangakkone   Kotte

When will this behaviour among Colombo’s so-called educated end?

The philanthropic gestures related to tsunami initiatives saw kindness, generosity and much more being adopted while getting the vaccine was and continues to be a selfish, competitive and power exercise. It was all about who we knew, whose list can we be on to get the vaccine, how influential can we be.

It was centric to Colombo society all boastfully claiming that they were able to use their connections and power to obtain the vaccine. Unwilling to wait their turn, not wanting others to see them standing in line was important. Being the privileged one at the expense of the other was vital!

When will this disgusting behaviour among Colombo’s so-called educated end? Or will they end up being the person German Film Director Werner Herzog depicts in his movie, Jeder für sich und gott gegen alle (Everyone for himself and God against all) – like Kaspar Hausen, humans struggling in unpredictable times and chaotic circumstances having lost their social identity.


Sharadha de Saram   Via email

A lesson on our laws for our Justice Minister

It should not be the function of common citizens to school a Minister on our laws.  Most certainly not one who holds that post in the area of Justice.

He seems to be set on destroying such defences as our laws provide to safeguard our heritage. He’s sort of ‘begun at the beginning’ by rubbishing the laws on our ancient archaeology and on the other antiquities of the Sinhalese.

Now he wants to rid our legal systems of “the Kandyan, Thesavalamai and Muslim laws.”

Just a minute, Mr. Sabry. The Brits and their predecessors in looting non-European nations, in their pursuit of a system of governance based on the trick of ‘divide et impera’ attempted to confer legal status on ‘Thesavalamai’ and ‘Muslim’ laws – which were and remain anything but.

“Thesavalamai’ was a collection of accounts of the ‘customs of the Malabar inhabitants of the Jaffna peninsula’ given by some of them at the request of their Dutch governor.

That is to also say that the customs refer to some practices in Kerala. As for the ‘Muslim laws’, Mr Shabry should be aware that there are as many such shibboleths as there are countries and communities in which the followers of some form of Islam reside.

What this Minister, (who should have read our legal history better) should have known is that what he miscalls the ‘Kandyan’ law was in fact, the Sinhala law that governed everyone in this country – Europeans, Malays, Moors, Malayalees, Tamils alike till long after the Brits conned their way to State power in Sinhale.

The English were able to overcome the application of the Sinhala personal laws to them only via an appeal to their Privy Council in the 1880s.

I have no idea where Mr. Sabry can be sent to away from where he has now been ill-advisedly put.

Malawala Nissanga   Via email

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