Hospital laundry project not related to ETCA – Health Minister

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said that the project initiated for laundering the clothes worn by the patients and staff during surgical procedures in Western Province hospitals using modern technology to kill germs, is not at all relevant to the proposed Economic and technology Partnership Agreement (ETCA) with India.

The Minister said the laundry project is a Board of Investment (BOI) project under the Build, Operate, & Transfer (BOT) method with a uS4 7.5 million investment.

The government does not bear any expenses for the project while constructing required buildings and installing required machinery, are done at the expense of the investors, according to the Minister.

The project is implemented by the Sri Lankan affiliate of India’s Sugram Hospital Solutions, which is engaged in laundry services a several hospitals worldwide, the Minister said.

Under the BO project, it has been agreed to clean the hospital laundry of the Western Province at the same price for three years, after which the charges will be revised every 3 years. After 15 years the project, modernized to keep with technology, will be transferred to the Ministry of Health.

Under the project, the garments used by the patients and staff during the surgical procedures will be sterilized using modern methods to kill the germs, washed and ironed, sealed in protective covers, and transported to the hospitals in sterilized trucks.

The Ministry of Health will spend less than the cost incurred by the hospitals on local laundry services now, he said.

It has been decided to use new technology after the doctors complained to the Ministry about the contracted providers involved in the laundry service at the hospitals in the Western Province.

Hospital authorities were confronted with problems of providers using substandard materials for sterilization, not sterilizing, delay in providing cleaned laundry to hospitals during rainy season, spread of skin related diseases due to incomplete cleaning, the Minister added.

At present, in the Western Province alone, about 17000 kilograms of soiled garments are being laundered daily. The project aims to sterilize and provide clean garments to the patients. At present, a modern type of laundry service is being implemented in the Neville Fernando hospital Malabe.

Under the new project, more than 300 unemployed youths in the Western Province will be given employment opportunities.

Expressing his views on the BOI project, the Minister noted that in some hospitals white-colored bed linen are brownish. “The germs are not removed. Because these bed sheets are washed with water from the Beira Lake. Therefore, it is important to clean the linen under modern technology. Cleanliness is very important in the prevention of disease. ”

“This project has no relevance to ETCA,” the Minister said pointing out that some who opposed the Indo Lanka Free trade Agreements are in Provincial Councils now.

The Government Medical Officers’ Association has alleged that the government is outsourcing the laundry service to an Indian company even before it signed the ETCA which will result in hundreds of Sri Lankans losing their jobs.

“Everybody in our country is opposed to new development projects because of the island mentality. They opposed the Gal Oya movement and the Mahaweli Project and also the free ambulance service.”

“But how much these projects now have helped the people?” he asked.

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