Ministry blames local team
Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva in conversation with Dr.
Madhar Ram and Dr. Stephane Guichard.
on the part of the medical team for failing to pay due attention to the
‘cautioning letter’ by the mother and absence of an emergency response
team, had caused the death of the 12- year- old girl of St. Thomas’
Girl’s High School in Matara, Deputy Director General (Public Health)
Dr. P.G. Mahipala concluded in his report, a Health Ministry
Dr. Mahipala who was appointed to investigate the cause of the death
of Peshala Hansani who suddenly died after the administration of a
Rubella vaccination, given as part of a public immunization campaign
conducted in her school by Health authorities of Matara district last
Thursday, handed over his report to the Health Minister yesterday. In
the report he mentioned an allergic reaction to the Rubella injection
may have been the cause of the death of the student.
He and a team of doctors were dispatched to Matara by Health Minister
Nimal Siripala de Silva to probe the incident due to the controversial
manner in which the child died. The incident caused uproar among the
The child’s mother had written to health officers on the day of the
health camp in school that her child was prone to allergic reactions to
food containing cow’s milk and hence to pay due heed to this fact when
administering the Rubella vaccine to her daughter.
No child has been admitted to any State hospital in connection with
Rubella vaccine after the first incident when 27 children were admitted
to the Matara hospital. Almost all the children have been discharged but
still some parents keep them in the hospital willingly because of the
shock and fear. Some other parents very often bring their cured children
back to hospital because of the same reason the spokesman said.
The spokesperson said on the day Peshala was immunized, 4,000 others
in Matara district were also given the same vaccination.
The two doctors assigned by the World Health Organization (WHO) to
conduct a special probe, on the invitation of the Health Minister,
arrived in the country yesterday. They will meet local epidemiological
experts in Colombo today and will visit St.Thomas’ Girl’s High School,
the MOH and the General Hospital in Matara tomorrow. Their report is due
within two to three days, the spokesperson said.
The two WHO experts were flown to Sri Lanka to investigate the Matara
incident where Peshala Hansani died and 27 others were taken ill after
the administration of the routine Rubella vaccine. They have been
requested to conduct a full scale independent investigation into the
case looking into all possible angles.
Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva made this
request when the duo, Dr. Madhav Ram (Accelerated Measles Control
Immunization and Vaccine Development) and Dr. Stephane Guichard,
(Technical Officer, Vaccine Supply and Quality Immunization and Vaccine
Development) called on the Minister at his ministry yesterday morning.
The Minister told the experts that their attention should also be
drawn on the technical, management and administration angles too during
this investigation to see whether there had been any negligence or the
vaccine was of inferior quality.
A Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry release said the WHO experts were
sent here in response to a request made to WHO South East Asia Director
Dr. Samlee Plianbanchang by Minister de Silva.
The Minister said if anyone was found guilty for this unfortunate
incident directly or indirectly, stern action would be taken against him
or her according to the existing law and regulations.
Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry Secretary Dr. Athula
Kahandaliyanage Director General of Health Services Dr. Ajith Mendi was