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* Trade union in Sri Lanka claims government decided to reduce the number of nurses jeopardizing health sector
Sun, Dec 15, 2013, 10:48 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 15, Colombo: A trade union affiliated to Sri Lanka's health sector claims that the government has decided to reduce the number of nurses in the state hospitals resulting in the country's health sector facing a major problem but the Minister of Health says otherwise.

Head of the All Ceylon Nurses' Association, Gamini Kumarasinghe said the government has made a decision to reduce the number of nurses at a time when the state hospitals are faced with a massive shortage of nurses.

"Many treatment units in hospitals in Anuradhapura, Matara, Kurunegala, Kandy, Karapitiya and Badulla have been affected due to the shortage of nurses," Kumarasinghe said.

Claiming that the existing cadre of 26,000 nurses in the country is to be limited to 20,105 by the government, the union leader explained that no nurses have been taken in for nursing training in 2008 and 2009 and until six month lapsed in 2010 there were no new recruits to the sector.

However, the Health Minister Maithreepala Sirisena said the government will recruit another 10,400 employees for health services on Tuesday. The government will also appoint 6,035 nurses and 2,000 para medical officers.

According to Kumarasinghe, the government's actions from slashing budgetary allocations to health and reducing the work force shows it has no desire to expand the state health sector.

Contradicting the union leader's statement, the Health Minister Maithreepala Sirisena said the President has made the highest ever allocations for the health sector in 2014 Budget.

The government has allocated Rs. 150 billion in the 2014 as opposed to the Rs. 135 billion government allocated last year, the Minister said.

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