27 May, 2022


GMOA, SLMC, Health Ministry; The Triple Gems Of Sri Lankan Health Care

By Lasnthie Wickremesinghe –

As a child I was fascinated by the idea of being a doctor. At that time, I did not know the financial and social benefits that came with it. I thought I may treat people and that I assumed would make them happy and that I might share that happiness with them. I was wrong and I later realized that if I were to share happiness best place would be in the entertainment industry and not the healthcare industry. Still healthcare could be a satisfying industry if not controlled by a few greedy individuals. I decided to write this article because I cannot in a clear conscious continue to work and support this corrupt system.

Padeniya – GMOA

Few years back I came back to Sri Lanka, having spent more than five years in a different country. I was coming home for the greatest surprise in my life. Not influenced by the brainwashing in local universities and hospitals, not understanding political struggles, poor quality of science education and corrupt unions, I was amazed by the backing that the GMOA had by its self-proclaimed 16k members. I asked my-self how could the most “learnt” group of graduates be following a pseudoscientific group of morons? It seemed to me that most Unions of Sri Lanka have been looking for opportunities to have substantial amount of power, to change everything to their benefit(Not that there is anything wrong with that unless those benefits come with a huge cost to the majority of citizens).

I then turned my hopes towards the Sri Lanka Medical council. Generally medical councils of many countries have good reputations amongst both doctors and patients. Therefore, I thought maybe they were what actually represents the doctors’ mindset of Sri Lanka. Every interaction I had with them taught me it was a council of imbeciles who had no idea how to run a professional group. They took decisions that came out from nowhere and implemented them without considering any consequences. None of their actions were research based, they have no annual reports, they were not responsible for anyone and answered to no one. Apart from having notices for licensing exams for foreign educated students and barriers for all non-doctor medical personnel, they did very little to improve quality of healthcare in Sri Lanka. It was like most regulatory bodies of Sri Lanka, guarding the interest of the people they should be regulating. I do admit however that the current Chair Person of SLMC has openly stood against GMOA involvement in SLMC matters and seem to be interested in improving some standards. Whether it is just gallery talk or actual action, we are yet to see.

Prof. Harendra de Silva -Chairman SLMC

I know most people think of Ministries as money stealing useless institutes but looking at the achievements of the health ministry I felt for a moment that maybe, possibly we had at least one competent group in the health care sector that did work in a professional level. Although quality of Ministry was much higher than SLMC and the GMOA, it seems the only success stories the ministry has is largely on projects that give international recognition or cover WHO goals that give political benefits or commissions for the people involved. The ministry’s failure to safeguard working conditions of medical personal and its failure to improve the 50+ year old corrupt system that breeds ignorant shit as doctors have given way to the rise of power of GMOA and its right hand SLMC.

Treasure Trove For Investigative Journalist, FCID And Police

Although at first it seems that majority of GMOA office bearers were the garbage dumps of the medical profession, people who found no recognition in their professional circles and so resorted to gaining recognition by appearing to fight for any medico who supported them (taking revenge on those who opposed them). It seems most of their actions were really for personal gains. Many assume that it is for gaining a ministerial position in a future government, but it could be far more than that.

If we take ambulances, SAITM and milk poison-they all seem to be political moves but what if it was more than that? Who benefits from people not having free ambulances?  Who benefits from students having to study abroad? Who benefits from dealing shares in milk industries, if a sudden collapse of foreign milk imports, when no one else was expecting it?

Why did the Singapore deal that threatened the country so much that GMOA launched multiple protests against, wrote a whole pseudoscientific book about and even came on TV and challenged an economics professor about his integrity (they did become the laughing stock of the country in this debate but in their heads it seemed they won the argument) suddenly deem that the Singapore deal was OK when Mahinda unexpectedly snatched the position of Prime Minister?

Rajah Senaratne – Minister of Health

Why did GMOA along with medical student unions try to stop nurses from gaining a degree and better education? Why did they want nurses to be school pass outs who pay diploma fees private businesses owned/managed/lectured by medicos? Why do they want nurses to be partially educated and unable to question the doctor’s orders? Why did they welcome nurses who have good A/L with black flags denying them infrastructure that the government built to train them?

How did the union that keeps denying people access to positions due to a long forgotten A/L result sheet, be bold enough to ask its members children to have exclusive access to National Schools? Could they not demand that their children also pass scholarship and earn a rightful place? (according to their own way of judgment?) How have some GMOA members’ children enter national schools when they clearly don’t meet National School criteria?

Why did GMOA claim exclusive access to nutritional advice when the head of the organization being a pediatrician doesn’t know about false claims/interpretation by their own organization had on effects of milk to breastfeeding mothers?

GMOA if not for financial crimes should be prosecuted at least for its massive misinformation and putting patient lives in danger by ruining trustworthiness of doctors in the eyes of the public.

Does The GMOA/SLMC Help Its Medicos? Or The People?

I have not delved in to the history so maybe decades ago they were a benevolent bunch (unlikely but possible). If we look at dumps that are called living quarters for medical officers, the way transfers are given to people who do not support GMOA, professionals who lack continuous medical education, absence of standardized/transparent licensing exams, lack of competency in other staff categories in the hospital  (that requires better education and professional growth), the ever growing work hours and dwindling staff numbers it appears that even in the past GMOA had not been doing enough, by the members, profession, patients or the institutions they work for.  Instead of trying to address any of the above they choose to squabble with the Minister, on charges of corruption, with the hope of putting someone who will grant personal favors to GMOA, but not necessarily to Medical officers as a whole.

During our licensing exam foreign graduates (Sri Lankans educated abroad) are treated like 2nd grade citizens. We were never treated this badly in our respective countries in which we had our education, having to go through the SLMC office which has people who have zero training on how to be professional, who write insulting/possibly illegal (with self-proclaimed rules) letters of recognition with zero professionalism, without making an effort to provide very basic facilities such as getting registered online so even from Jaffna (or even while working/studying in countries abroad) people have to take leave from jobs (sometimes fly home from other countries) and come and see the glory of SLMC, failing to administer exams even after ordered by courts (SLMC has continuously failed to hold proper exams on time).

Quality of the exams are so poor that one year they had 3 questions repeated in the same paper (SLMC continues to deny the allegation on quality and even have a rule written by themselves that exams cannot be questioned by any candidate). The MCQ exam has a negative mark assessment which has been removed from almost all licensing exams around the world due to extensive research that such marking does not benefit the outcome quality of candidates. During exams which are held when SLMC and all Local universities have time (making random sudden announcement of dates) they ask people who come from all over the county not to bring a phone or even bag without providing a place to keep them securely. The exam coordinators who have no idea how to talk to people. (These doctors probably never have witnessed how well exams like CIMA are organized). GMOA while showing foreign graduates fake support have throughout the years made it even harder to pass the exams by removing compensation marks, increasing pass marks and creating problems after problems and then blaming it on the Ministry and “hidden groups at work”.

While countries like Australia are randomizing intern positions so that all hospitals will improve and get better doctors Sri Lankan Medical council and GMOA have been endorsing a merit system that benefits mostly Colombo based hospitals and let the rural base hospitals to suffer.

During the whole year of internship when we are almost forcefully recruited in to the GMOA, the only messages we see from chat groups is “you are supposed to support our strike in this region” and then a representative of the Union comes to the hospital like a creep to see if we follow orders. People who refuse to cooperate with this squads will have much harder time getting what they deserve professionally.

Of course most of this is forgiven and forgotten when we come to a post intern appointment when GMOA (now heroes) have made sure that we don’t have to sign and be in hospital as long as no one finds out. So our medicos become grateful, we start doing businesses, private practice and other stuff to try and earn the salary we deserve for all the hardship we went through. Thanks to health Ministry being unwilling to give competitive salaries and improve the system we see no folly in abusing this GMOA given power of corruption. So instead of developing our hospitals and patients we start developing our lost fortunes.

The consultants in the country of my education dedicated their knowledge to improve hospitals and protocols, most of our consultants are busy improving their personal pockets so they can send their children to study abroad. Rationale is very clear. Why would they build systems in Sri Lanka that would help thousands of Sri Lankan children to study, learn and compete when they can thrive on the benefits of system wide corruption.

Quality Of Sri Lankan Healthcare

If you go to the General Medical Council web page (of UK) you will see the research they have conducted to apply regulation, you will see the patient report instructions, colleague report instructions, step by step transparent licensing details, current ongoing policy changes (when they wanted to change exam rules in 2019 they announced it in 2016). They also have a whole bunch of details on how to improve a system that many countries already take example and follow. Yet the SLMC web page has absolutely nothing of value, apart from the very non-standardized, non-transparent exam result publications. So it’s no wonder we are at such a pathetic stage.

Recent subfertility issue with Dr. Shafi is a great example on how poor the standards of the Medical Council in Sri Lanka is. Because it seems to me still no one knows apart from the CID/Courts, if Dr. Shafi has committed a crime or not, which should be very clear in a proper system. Doctors have been giving contradicting public statement on a national level crime as solid facts without considering any consequences that might arise out of such behavior. Dr. Shafi even though might not have been cutting fallopian tubes has clearly done insane amount of surgeries, though who is responsible for such a thing is not clear. Why do we have no regulations to prevent this? How is one doctor allowed to preform so many surgeries in such a short duration? GMOA and many professors not so long ago published a journal with their pseudoscientific research (as usual) that claimed SL has too many doctors. If so why does one doctor had to preform so many surgeries?

Many medical students, doctors and even professors of Sri Lanka claim hospital beds are the only problem that Sri Lanka has and the hospitals of Sri Lanka are amazing! (For sure they have not visited hospital canteens and toilets for patients). How do they make such a bold statement? We surely rank high in benchmarks and have won 50% of the healthcare awards in the world, right? Well for all I can tell after talking with thousands of such believers, they have come to the conclusion because of praise they receive from visiting medical students, doctors and consultants. Surely for people who only know how to step on others (when they should be lifting them up) don’t understand that in a civilized world you don’t put people down. You say the most politically correct and nice things even if it is not true, and you encourage people to do better with what little they have.

Although many countries have medical post graduate programs such as Public Health, Health information technology, Infectious Disease and so on, for non-medical graduates Sri Lanka seems to be taking a step back. When few years ago a fellow nurse passed the exam and got in to Health Information Post Graduate program, the GMOA doctors got furious saying no non-doctor has ever set foot inside the PGIM and soon after, she was forced to step down. So it’s clear that these people are uncivilized people who have zero ability to nurture talent and too much power to influence everything inside our healthcare sector and need serious intervention soon.

Of course, if I am to write every dumb thing the GMOA, Ministry and SLMC has done and involved with, I may have to write a whole book.

Who Do We Blame?

The SLMC, Ministry and the GMOA (A Branch of the Pohottuwa political group) are all political arms, only real thing they do is blame each other and do petty favors for groups just enough to stay in power and rip everything they can from the country and people. I do hope this will change soon since there are many people within the SLMC and Ministry trying to change old ways.

We are to blame for giving them power and responsibility and hoping that a small group will change things for the better of the many. 16k members of GMOA who think that doctors will be able continue fooling uneducated people, medical students and unions who shamelessly and cowardly help political propaganda for seniority/placements in workplace, voters who accept Ministers as long as they give them leftover bread crumbs from the luxurious banquets they have. We are all responsible for this state of affairs.

Why Bother With Internal Problems Of The Health Care Sector?

Health Care sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the world while we have a unique opportunity to train nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, nutritionist instead of housemaids. The GMOA involvement in regulating these programs for their personal benefits have made it impossible to have health professionals in any of these fields… Future/Current students who study these subjects in Sri Lanka will have a hard time working because of the greed of these individuals.

Healthcare sector is filled with hatred that has been brewing because of the cowardly practices of the GMOA and Unions creating more and more cycles of hatred that has manifested in to more and more frequent violence and abuse in hospitals. Poor people are mistreated, yelled at and lied to in a daily basis.

Suicide of junior doctors, nurses and patients due to unsolved problems, mentally unhealthy senior doctors and irresponsible administrators have been ignored and swept under the rug.

For most people visiting Sri Lankan hospitals have become a huge mental burden, not because of the illness they have but with the unprofessional way they will be treated in hospitals. No hospital is responsible for the care it’s doctors provide so improving ethics of doctors is not even a problem for private healthcare providers. Considerable amount of people who seek treatment resort to trying their luck with unverified/unlicensed/unproven traditional healing methods instead of seeking evidence base treatment. The people who do seek care from evidence based institutes are supposed to constantly seek advice from doctors who they personally know because they are not sure of the doctor they are consulting. we can’t fix any of these if GMOA continues its hampering whenever policy changes affect their personal businesses.

It’ll soon be 2020 and we still can’t seem to simply train our doctors to write (or even better print) a clear prescription, yet GMOA runs around the county telling everyone else how to do things.

*Lasnthie Wickremesinghe is a pseudonym

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Latest comments

  • 6

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 13

    All so called brainless politicians have corrupted and politicised everything in Sri lanka.
    Mahinda Rajapaksha is the worst and most corrupted man who extremely did that.

    Now no one is there to recover.
    It will take years and years to do it if we find a good leader for the country.

    Not muderer Gotabaya or any Rajapaksha member.

  • 26

    Lasnthie Wickremesinghe [pseudonym]
    Thank you for the timely, well-researched and well-written article. You have painstakingly covered all the essential areas and issues that have brought the health care system to this sorry state. As you outline, the whole system is falling apart due to the massive corruption from top to bottom. You correctly point out that the GMOA is a dumping ground for career wrecks who then take out their frustration by wrecking the whole system. The 3 or 4 GMOA fellows who appear on national TV regularly are totally unprofessional. Their attitude, body language and talk stink. They stare into the cameras like mafia gangsters and utter threats to everyone concerned. They have never ever taken responsibility for any of the problems in the hospitals, but blame everybody else: the government, the minister and the non-medical staff down to the level of minor employees, and even the public. Who do they think they are? These losers are going behind the scumbag politicians to achieve their narrow, selfish, petty demands at the cost of immense suffering to the general public. These heartless animals stage political strikes at the drop of a hat. As you astutely observe, many of the medical professionals do display symptoms of mental illness in their interactions with the patients and fellow staff. Maybe due to stress caused by their inability to handle their jobs. What a mess we are in. This is what happens when a society is unable to ensure its doctors are properly educated, trained and disciplined to become the kind of professionals they are supposed to be because of corruption and politics at every level – but at the same time, it puts them on a pedestal because of lingering feudal values and colonial norms. No wonder they behave like thugs.

  • 9

    Healthcare sector is filled with hatred that has been brewing because of the cowardly practices of the GMOA ///

    There was very less sound when the things happened to Dr. Shafi, who is the person cornered him from the health care sector.

  • 8

    It is a sensible write up by Lasanthie Wickremesinghe on these so called triple gems of Sri Lanka the GMOA, SLMC and Health Ministry of Sri Lanka. All these three miserably failed to deliver resulting Sri Lanka branded as a sickly nation which is sickening to be heard. According the data appearing in the web site of Ministry of Health, more than 25% of people are suffering from pre-diabetes or diabetes and more than 25% of the population suffering from respiratory diseases. And more than 75% suffering from NCDs. This data is sufficient to prove that all these three gems failed miserably to deliver. In the light of this situation government should shed light into the consumption of drugs imported into Sri Lanka at a high cost. So the medical drug mafia in collusion with the medical consultants drugs are sold at high price which majority of the people can’t afford. We still don’t the number of patients suffering from cancer is one of the killer disease. If a meaningful project by harnessing the resources of professional groups to carry out to curtail the disease by 5-7% annually, just imagine the relief for the suffering people and the savings in foreign exchange. GMOA is only worried about their perks and private practice not bothered to help the people.

  • 7

    So, now people will have to start chanting in the following ways:

    GMOA SLMC Health Ministry ca saranam gacchami (X 3).
    Dutiyampi GMOA SLMC Health Ministry ca saranam gacchami (X 3).
    Tatiyampi GMOA SLMC Health Ministry ca saranam gacchami (X 3).

  • 13

    Totally agree. GMOA should be abolished. It’s not needed. They think they are God’s just because they went to medical school. They should be treated like any other government employee.

  • 5

    Another mud sliding article against doctors by a person who does not have
    A back bone to mention his real name.

    • 17

      Hello Predictor
      Why are you worried about the messenger? Pay attention to the message brought out by the messenger! Do you have a backbone to mention your real name? Is it not the pot calling the kettle black?

  • 3

    Do not forget past

    How you qualified from sri lank and had the opportunity to go to international university an blame the 50 years corrupt system where you qualified from it.
    not be bitter about the past, but let us keep our eyes firmly on the future. There positive images to show the world.Qualified gentleman should be like a tree what ever shortcomings are have a firm roots and spread branches to give shade.

  • 17

    You have hit the nail right on.
    TheGMOA is the most corrupt and manipulative organistion
    In this country and involved in dirty third rate politics.
    Where is the rule of law and the leaders are being blackmailed by this

  • 11

    In SL, almost all the major trade unions are behaving like legalized underworld that blackmail the general public they depend on & they must serve to. GMOA sits on top of the apex. There was a time when trade unions help to preserve workers rights but unfortunately it was most of the those who help to establish trade unions themselves that set the bad example of politicizing and corruption. For example, Anil Munasinghe used live off trade union money. Now it is gone so bad that unions have become so powerful than the management in many public sector institutions.

    Let me share one small experience which probably explains sad but true corrupt situation in public sector. I, with a Kandian friend mine had to take bus from Kandy to Pilimathalawa in November (During 51 Black days) last year. We had to wait for for a long time. My friend told me that it was very unusual and there used to be buses one after another. I didn’t pay much attention to incident until I heard the media report regarding an audit conducted in Hatton CTB depot. Among other things, the audit report had revealed that some 70 plus buses kept out of operation! Why – SLPP friendly trade unions let the private buses take over the operations.

    Workers’ rights are important issues within the context of basic Human Rights, but how should the HR activists respond when leaders of workers themselves become part of the problem? I don’t believe that Gvt along can solve these kind of problems. The reason is that these corruptions are rooted in SL social & political system. That is where the strength of the SLPP lies. This strength extends from GMOA and similar so-called professional unions at the top to the PS at the grass-root level. I believe that SL cannot get out of this mess until its middle class expand so that the majority of the public becomes financially independent enough to withstand the pressure of corrupt politics of all kinds!

  • 10

    The GMOA is a despicable trade union & the SLMC is a ‘not fit for purpose’ Institute, run (until recently) by overbearing pundits like politically motivated Carlo Fonseka with a senile brain. Hopefully the current office bearers of the SLMC will open their eyes & act to reform the medical profession, instead of going with the flow. Having been educated by public funds, they owe it to the people of SL.

    We can see the lack of integrity & professional pride in other professions too, from civil service to law & order & the judicial services. This deterioration of professionalism is the result of a failed education system where the focus is on passing exams rather than a more rounded education of a broader context. Instead of improving the education in rural areas, successive govt. have lowered the standard to be ‘fair’ by the ‘less’ privileged & we have a set of undergraduates with a chip on their shoulder who later become high officers in the Govt. services, enjoying perks like duty concessionary vehicles, etc. Naturally, they want to restrict membership to their exclusive club. At the end of the day, the rich will get a better education abroad & will be gainfully employed in the private sector or abroad but it is the average town dwelling middle class who are victimised. Regretfully, I don’t see any political party addressing this anomaly. Corruption & cronyism is here to stay.

  • 9

    (Continued from above)
    This is so insane. The whole health care system is broken. What is the remedy? It must be driven into their swollen heads that they have to do their work just like everybody else. They are not a special class of people. They are being paid by the taxpayers’ money to serve the public. As a matter of fact, compared to other types of work, they are well-paid, in keeping with their training and skills. So they must put a stop to their greedy demands that are paralyzing the system. The customer comes first. So the doctors’ priority should be performing their duties in the proper manner. That means treating their patients and co-workers with dignity and respect, and maintaining professional standards in their work. Trade union activities should be secondary, and absolutely no politics. Then the patients and the society at large will also respect them. That’s all there to it. Respect works only when it is mutual. We must build a society in which everyone is respected but none is worshipped. We are not living in the feudal age.

  • 10

    Welcome to the filth called GMOA/SLMC/Heath Ministry. Our lying president was one time Health Minister.(what else to expect) MR politicized these bodies for his own political gain , to protest against international pressure.Now they are let loose, behaving like Mafia , threatening people and holding country /services to ransom, at will to satisfy their greed. My sincere advise to people who travel, is to not to go to any hospital/doctor unless it is a life or death situation where one is left with no options. One by one every system is being taken down. We had articles on The judges, Lawyers, Doctors and on the rest , yet to come. In case of Shafi, out of 47 doctors 45 did not have anything adverse to mention , during investigations.. Other two includes a female doctor who instigated the rumor mill because of her past conflicts, jealousy and resentments. Other is Dr. Weerabandara who lied, forged signatures,back dated complaints, deleted records to frame Shafi. These are the faces of Lankan Health Sector. We also heard the infamous screening for patriotism , prescribed by one of those shit heads.

  • 9

    Well said Lasanthi. I am ashamed as a doctor qualified in Sri Lanka on the corrupt,self motivated,free educated morons calling themselves as ‘doctors’ .I left the Sri lankan medical system and is impressed by GMC (UK) on how conscientious they are on patients well being. The fees are paid by the GMC registered doctors to the GMC but their primary role is to protect the public. How valuable and importance is their aim to maintain public safety.
    The GMOA should be abolished, -it does nothing but harness their well being,massaging their ego and is composed of a despicable corrupt,group with cerebal oedema.
    Act 16 should be similar to PLAB.
    Until the SLMA has a strong backbone the conscientious srilankan educated doctors will continue to emigrate, work ethically in overseas.
    I applaude lasanthi for your boldness. Shame on you predator -show you have a ‘konda’by reveling your true identity. People like you are the sore eyes to the poor public in sri lanka.

  • 6

    The recent facts behind Shafi,s case are shocking. Here is one. When the complainants were told to show up for HSG,(hysterosalpingogram) free of cost not one single person showed up and few of the lawyers representing them gave the excuse of not wanting to expose them to unnecessary radiation ???? So Dr, Weerabandara , a dentist by profession and in charge of Kurunegala teaching hospital was asked to provide with an expert opinion.He gave his own, by agreeing with the lawyers. People in Medical field know how benign and safe HCG compared to other radiological scans. . First of all ,Weerabandra did not tell the commission , he is a dentist and not an radiology expert. Secondly in his own field during dental scans while during procedures, though a shield is available to protect thyroids it is not mandatory to use , unless patient request (because of minimal exposure).His own dental scans performed on patients , without any protection has more exposure compared to HSG. He lied. The CID also found he and his staff had deleted records, back dated complaints and forged documents to frame a colleague. This is all done for the purpose of political gains.

  • 6

    It’s the case of 16000 doctors and 22 million people. People are fad up with these lunatic SOBs and their blood sucking vultures- the heartless GMOA. Now a days, none respect even the good doctors owing to the SOBs GMOA. It’s not of the educated ones but so called educated under world thugs are controlling it, and ruining the whole country and the people’s lives. It’s high time to lock them up for bringing harming on the people. If that’s done, none would shad any tears for these SOBs.

  • 0

    Heading is very attractive I guess the author missed this too.

    Gods blessings eh? Lol

  • 0

    The apt title is “GMOA, SLMC, Health Ministry; The Three Dimensions of Sri Lankan Health Care”
    Health Ministry, the vertical dimension, common with all ministries from top to bottom, is corrupt.
    SLMC was buggered by Carlos Fonseka
    GMOA started well setting out to do what trade unions must be doing.
    But Dr Padeniya, the past/present/future force goading GMOA, began taking instructions from MR.
    Lasnthie Wickremesinghe is a pseudonym. Clearly worried by the fourth dimension, the Contract Maimers.

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