The State Veterinary Surgeons’ Association (SVSA) yesterday said that they would launch a token strike on next Wednesday, February 27 if the government did not take measures to abolish the Cabinet Paper, which proposed to bring back rabies elimination programme under the purview of the Health Ministry.
Speaking at a media briefing, the Association’s Vice President Dr. Jagath Jayasekara said the Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne had forcefully taken over the Department of Animal Production and Health (DAPH) under the purview of the Health Ministry.
The DAPH was under the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Economic Affairs, Livestock Development which was functioning under Minister P.Harrison.
"During the recent Cabinet meeting the Health Minister placed a cabinet proposal to take over the DAPH under his Ministry and did not let the responsible Minister even to talk," he said.
“During the past few weeks, the SVSA had informed the President and tried to meet with the Health Minister. But the Health Minister did not listen to what we tried to explain. This is a national issue and this situation had been created by the Health Minister,” he said.
"The Minister had said that cases of rabies had been on the rise in the country and he took over the rabies elimination programmes due to this fact," he said.
“We had told the President that Health Minster was behind the issue and he has taken a wrong decision to control the rabies elimination programme.
“The Cabinet paper should be removed within next week, no intermediate reconciliation talks and no hope of holding or suspending it."
The rabies elimination programme had been conducted under the purview of the Department of Animal Production and Health (DAPH) since 2015.
“The Health Ministry had tried to eliminate the rabies menace for 65 years and failed. We totally reject the allegations made by the Health Ministry claiming that recent deaths that had occurred during the past eight months was our fault,” Dr Jayasekara said.
“No dog bites were reported during the past eight months as has been claimed by the Health Ministry,” he said.
“The Veterinary Department had managed to rid the country of the cattle disease Rinderpest and has ensured that the disease would not spread again.
“Therefore the rabies elimination programme should be kept under the SVSA until the target is achieved,” he said. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama)