India is the only country till now to send a team of doctors and provide medicines for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the battle zones of north-eastern Sri Lanka, a top minister said on Tuesday.
While the Lankan government is in talks with few other countries interested in sending medical help for the displaced, a team of eight Indian army doctors accompanied by 44 para-medics and nurses have already reached the Pulmodai hospital in the Mullaitivu district.
"The Indian team started work on Monday. We are now in talks with Switzerland, Norway and the US who are interested in extending medical help to the displaced," health minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said on Tuesday. He added that a few international aid agencies like WHO and WFP were also helping.
The minister however clarified that the Indian team would not be working independently. "How can that be? One of our doctors would be coordinating their (the Indian doctors) movements," he said.
Silva brushed aside allegations leveled by a government doctors’ association here that the Indian doctors were not qualified to set up even temporary hospitals in Sri Lanka. "The Indian doctors were screened and their qualifications checked before they left for the hospital. Their qualifications were approved by the Medical Council," Silva said.
Further, he added that Sri Lanka has been buying large quantities of medicine from India and medicines being used by the team are registered here.
The minister added that on Tuesday the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided a few mobile dispensaries, which would be sent to hospitals in the front.
The health minister alleged that LTTE cadres were cornering most of the medicines and equipment. "We send food and medicines. But the LTTE takes away everything for their cadres. They have even taken away beds and bandages. But we have not stopped sending (food and medicines)," the minister said.