Rubella vaccination death:
Errant officers to be charged under Penal Code?
Health Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva yesterday said the Health
Ministry is seeking the possibility of charging the officers who are
responsible for the death of Peshala Hansani of St. Thomas’ College
Matara following Rubella vaccination, under the Penal Code.
The Minister said all investigation reports including the WHO
vaccination experts findings would be forwarded to the Attorney General
for his advice to explore the possibility of punishing them under the
He said the Ministry will initiate disciplinary inquiry against these
officers and those found guilty would be severely punished under the
Establishment Code and no one is allowed to put the people’s lives at
The Health Ministry yesterday found that Peshala Hansani of S.
Thomas’ College Matara had been vaccinated by the Medical team attached
to the Matara MOH office in spite of mother’s plea that the child is
allergic to vaccines.
Deputy Director General of Public Health Services Dr. Palitha
Mahipala who headed a high profile medical team tasked to investigate
into the death of Peshala yesterday said the medical team has totally
neglected the letter by the Child’s mother which was affixed with the
Student’s vaccination card.
The mother in her letter to the Medical Officer has said her child
was allergic to vaccines and had shown abnormal breathing pattern after
she was vaccinated. She has pleaded the Medical Officer to pay special
attention to her child and decide whether she should be vaccinated or
“This medical team comprising a registered Medical Officer and PHIs
attached to the Matara MOH Office has vaccinated 350 students of the
school and Peshala has shown abnormal breathing pattern and has been
taken to the Hospital in a three-wheeler.
The doctors in the hospital has given emergency treatment and later
she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit where specialist doctors
were assigned to monitor her complications,” he said.
Dr. Mahipala said the death was due to the shock associated with the
complications after she was vaccinated against Rubella and the other
students who were later admitted to the hospital have not developed
complications in the aftermath of Rubella vaccination.
“The medical team has fully adhered to the Ministry guidelines in the
provision of Rubella vaccination and we see no problem with regard to
the way the vaccine was given to the students,” he said.
Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage said he has sent
a Deputy Director General to further investigate into this matter and
stern action would be taken against the errant officers.
He said the WHO vaccination experts have already initiated their
investigations and their report is expected by next Friday. “The WHO
team will look into all aspects of the Rubella vaccination program and
pinpoint who is responsible for this mishap.
He said the Ministry has vaccinated over 250,000 people against
Rubella and no major complications other than mild fever and cough were
reported from any part of the country.
A special evaluation committee comprising the health sector experts
is evaluating the suitability of a vaccines before it is imported to Sri
Lanka and the particular company which provided 7 out of 10 vaccines to
the National Immunization program since 1996 have complied with WHO
These vaccines are imported from the companies which have secured the
Pre Qualified WHO Supplier standards. This consignment of vaccines which
is to expire in November has been certified by the Food and Drug
Authority, Medical Research Institute and experts in the Epidemiological
department of the Ministry.
The Rubella vaccination program was introduced in 1996 on the
recommendation of National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases
considering the impact of disease on the children.