7 July, 2022

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Minister Of Health & The Sri Lankan Healthcare

By Bhagya Kodituwakku –

Being a Medical Doctor who was born and bred in Sri Lanka, I am truly disappointed of the news that our Minister of Health, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne flew to Singapore for a medical check up. According to recent reports, Dr. Senaratne visited Lanka Hospitals last week, where he found a minor ailment. Later in the same day, his family flew to Singapore to seek a second-opinion and further medical treatment from Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

This report is alarming on many levels, as it fundamentally questions the quality of the health care system of our nation, as well as the professional integrity of the Minister.

Rajitha

Photo – Rajitha at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore

The mission statement of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine clearly stipulates that its main objective is to improving health status and reducing inequalities. Further, at the 68th World Health Assembly in May 2015, the Minister proudly boasted the country’s free health service since 1930s, adding that the health system has developed on a platform of efficient and effective primary healthcare, where equity is a central consideration.

We Sri Lankans must feel threatened or insecure, that the head of the healthcare services in our very own country feels the need to seek medical attention elsewhere even after receiving medical treatment from one of the top private hospitals in the country. This is nothing but an insult to the Sri Lankan doctors and the healthcare system. It is a known fact that his wife was the former Deputy Director of the National Hospital Colombo and currently the Director General of the National Non-Communicable Disease Bureau. Yet, local doctors are not good enough for further medical check-ups and second opinion. This demonstrates his lack of faith in the quality of medical standards in Sri Lanka, and undermines his professional ethics. This equivalent to Steve Jobs using a Nokia phone instead of an Apple iPhone, or the CEO of Toyota driving a Mercedes-Benz.

What this news also highlights is that after all, ‘healthcare equity’ is a mere façade. Of the 21 million Sri Lankans, how many would have the luxury to go abroad for further medical treatment? As an individual serving the interests of the nation and the common people, it is ironic that he is entitled to such level of luxury- and at who’s expense begs a separate question altogether.

There seems to be no question of ‘yahapalanaya’ (good governance) when it comes to this matter, where even the notorious Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) remains surprisingly quiet. While they are too busy defying against the private medical institution in Malabe, this issue does not seem to warrant any action from them either.

Is this the sort of message we want to give to our future doctors and also to the world? Leaders should lead by example, not merely by empty words. This is not to say that our healthcare system is without faults. Having said that, let us all stand up against this hypocrisy to restore the respect that our medical system and its highly qualified staff deserve.

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Latest comments

  • 30
    3

    He is the minister of Health. But, when he gets a panic attack he runs to Singapore.

    How disgusting is that ?

    A health minister of a country does not believe in his own doctors and hospitals. He spend public money and run to singapore for a check up. But, they get salaries and perks as the ministers from public money.

    simply walking naked.

    • 13
      5

      Today the corrupt politicians disdain national Hospitals and public transport,and national schools for their off-spring.

      The culture of SPECIAL “PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGE’ that Ranil loves to talk about for the scum of the earth politicians of SL, who are per capita the most corrupt segment of Sri Lankan society, must end.

      Transport, health and education facilities used by the PUBLIC is not good enough for politicians and their corrupt off-spring. Politicians have turned into a corrupt and blood-sucking CASTE in Sri Lanka today!

      Now, wait and see, the Sri Lanka tax payer will be asked to foot Rajitha and family’s trip to Singapore!

      The culture of corruption and IMPUNITY and the notion that there is one law and one set of facilities and priviledges for the people and another for politicians, must end.

      Politicians running to Singapore for treatment should be banned and they should be required to use the National Hospital whose wards they frequent when sent to jail!

      Ranil Wickramasinghe and Mahinda Jarapassa and Sira are all the same – they think that politicians are above the Law and there are special privileges and rules for politicians.

      This POLITICAL CULTURE of IMPUNITY and IMMUNITY and gross disregard for DEMOCRACY in the country must end.

      The culture of corruption and ENTITLEMENT that the Sri Lanka politicians thrive on is INSUFFERABLE. Rajitha and his ilk are the scum of the earth.

    • 8
      2

      Rajitha going to Singapore for treatment becomes an issue only if he defects to MR’s camp. Then FCID will want to know how he paid the Singapore bill with his puny Minister’s salary. Until such time let’s pray for quick recovery for our minister.

  • 22
    4

    The bottom line is if you can afford go overseas for your medical check ups. GMOA Is not interested in health care.

    GMOA is a trade union which will look after its own interests and what are they?

    1 free quarters when posted out stations
    2 free car permits every 3-5 years
    3 free overseas training for specialization
    4 private practice for all govt employed doctors
    5 pensions for all govt doctors whilst doing private practice
    6 best govt schools for their children
    7 free incentives and trips from pharma companies for recommending their drugs
    8 fight against medical negligence
    9 block all avenues for private medical education in the country but allow sub standards medical degrees from overseas
    10 block all avenues for overseas medical professionals to come and serve in SL hospitals

    • 13
      4

      This is what sucks in SL. Education is funded by public funds but no sooner doctors qualify they forget the pubic and think they are a superior being that should be worshipped. Their only objective is making money and creaming the system while holding the public hostage. They make their money through the private system.

      This is not limited to doctors even teachers do it. They just go through the motion during school and make money through tuition.

      Public servants should be renamed political servants that’s the only people they serve.

      The whole country is screwed-up.

    • 4
      2

      1.let me know what is free quarters mean. don’t you know that only one quarters, but many doctors are in the hospital. so, your first statement is false.
      2.not only doctors, all the others who are eligible get the same
      3. free overseas training to doctors, what about others such as university lecturers, central bank officers? they all get the same benifit
      4. what about teachers? they all can do tuition
      5. pension for all government servants regardless of their job
      6. don’t lie to public, you don’t know much things, how many of doctor’s children are going to international? are they going for the pride, no, difficult to get the admission to good school
      7 ask pharmaceutical companies to stop it.
      8. prove the medical negligence
      9. private medical collage is not necessary for the country. government universities are having enough doctors. That is good,

  • 17
    1

    Bhagya don’t waste your time. Perhaps an article on stray dogs in Colombo will be much more worthwhile than writing about this third [Edited out]

  • 9
    1

    i wonder who is paying for all this? Trust it is not the taxpayer in Sri Lanka !

    • 5
      0

      I am sure he would have used his own funds to fly to Singapore and for medical treatment.

      Sri Lanka simply cannot afford to spend for a hospital like Mount Elizabeth , Singapore!
      A clarification from the Minister would surely clear the air!
      PNG

    • 0
      0

      Let us all hope that this foul mouthed Minister who never trust the Medical system in his native country being the minister of health will not access the PRESIDENTS FUND to pay for his operation done in Singapore. We have seen how all these Politicos ( Jayalath Jayawrdena in Paris was paid Rs 50 lakhs ,Keheliya Rambukwella in Melbourne was paid Rs 100 lakhs etc ) have this dirty habit of accessing money from the presidents fund for their private health visits, when innocent poor citizens of Sri Lanka unable to find free medicine and que up for treatment. They do the campaign from supporters money, when they become Ministers they rob money , when they get sick they beg from the PRESIDENTS FUND.Disgrace!!!!! Hats off to Hon Karu Jayasuriya a true Gentleman who was an accomplished rich businessman even before he came in to Politics underwent his Operations in Colombo when he was sick sometime back.

  • 6
    3

    Bhagya Kodituwakku

    “Being a Medical Doctor who was born and bred in Sri Lanka, I am truly disappointed of the news that our Minister of Health, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne flew to Singapore for a medical check up. According to recent reports, Dr. Senaratne visited Lanka Hospitals last week, where he found a minor ailment. Later in the same day, his family flew to Singapore to seek a second-opinion and further medical treatment from Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.’

    “This report is alarming on many levels, as it fundamentally questions the quality of the health care system of our nation, as well as the professional integrity of the Minister”

    Was he sick from a Cold, Hydrocele, Kidney Issues, STD or AIDS, where he found a minor ailment? Minor ailment for whom? For the Patient or the Doctor? Will he die of complications?

    Now, this is an opportunity for the Sri Lankan Doctors, to find what ailment he was suffering and sow that almost all the Sr Lankan patients with that ailment were cured.

  • 4
    6

    Good on you Bhagya.. You are a brave woman..
    By the way what are all those strings and other white stuff on both of Rajitha’s wrists? What is happening to our men when they getting more successful and going way up in the ladder? Aquire more white thick strings as they go up??? It looks like Rajitha does not even trust Singapore doctors…..

  • 11
    3

    Rajith Senarathana is Dental Doctor turn into incorrigible
    politician of anti-democratic outfit.

    Is that the by product of unknown democracy politics in
    Sri lanka.

    • 9
      2

      In many other countries dentists are not called ‘Doctor’ but simply ‘Mr’. I wonder when Sri Lankan dentists got to call themselves doctors.

      • 1
        0

        Manel Fonseka

        They doctor the teeth. Teeth is part of the body. So, technically they qualify, except when a person with no teeth visits them, and they are disqualified.

        • 0
          0

          But do they study the same number of years as doctors?

  • 5
    3

    May be Dr Rajitha has no faith in you guys,,

    He may take up your advice after the DIL graduates and may get treated at Malabe Teaching Hospital.

    Wonder whether Rajitha will get the Daughter in Law to specialize in Cardiology or get her in to Cardiac Surgery.

    Because Uncle may need on going care going forward even if Singaporeans do new plumbing .

  • 1
    1

    Well.. lets hope the minor ailment doesn’t turn out to be something different or else he would start questioning the quality of Sri Lankan doctors again. That’s more fodder for the SAITM thingy. Then again, him getting a deadly sickness wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world (evil grin). Lets hope he recovers soon, and find some spiritual enlightenment in the process. Maybe then he would stop the lying and the stealing and perhaps actually do something for the benefit of this country

  • 11
    1

    “Minister of Health, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne flew to Singapore for a medical check up.”

    Doesn’t this say the sorry state of the Sri Lankan healthcare.

    What happens to people who are not politicians and cannot afford this?

  • 3
    8

    Freedom of choice should not be viewed as treacherous to Sri Lanka’s medical association. Politicising petty grievances reflect insecurity.

    This kind of mentality will keep Sri Lankans away from the competitive edge with the rest of the world.

  • 6
    2

    I absolutely agree with you Dr Kodituwakku. I was shocked when I read that the Minister of Health took off for Singapore for a health check-up. Of all people he should set an example and use the health services he presides over. What an insult to our doctors and ancillary staff. What confidence can the rest of us have in our health services when the Minister shuns them like this.

    It is also amazing how such people have the financial resources to fly off to Singapore and purchase its costly services without batting an eyelid. Few other Sri Lankans earning the monthly salary and allowances the Minister does would have the wherewithal for medical treatment in Singapore. One wonders how the Minister finds the money or is it yet another drain on the public purse?

  • 5
    5

    Its not a minor disease. He had a cardiac even needing bypass surgery. You r facts are wrong and still you are writng a big story. Anyway. Our minister of health not having faith in our doctors with fact that our doctors screwed up the monk… shows what? Capability of our home grown medical specialists?

  • 7
    3

    Minister Rajitha should be relieved from his Health Ministry portfolio immediately.

    • 2
      9

      Why? Is it because he exercised his freedom of choice.

  • 5
    1

    Mr/Ms Thusitha,

    The minister’s representative made a statement describing the condition as ‘part of the minister’s regualar check up”.

    Seems you are the one who’s got the facts wrong ;-)

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/105701/Rajitha-to-visit-Singapore-for-check-up

    I for a fact know that SL doctors are perfectly capable of looking after a heart patient provided they seek medical attention on time.

    And there’s no ‘big story’ here, just a commentary on the conduct of the topmost official looking after our health.

    It’s okay for you to display your ignorance, it is your right to do so, but don’t expect others not to notice.

  • 3
    2

    I see no contradiction in the minister seeking a second medical opinion in an advanced Hospital as long as it is privately funded. When a minister takes his oath as a Health Minister, he/she is inheriting a system built up over a number of years; and the system was not his entirely his own making. If he prefers a better health system for a personal ailment; he should be free to do so.

    Are we expecting our education minister to educate his/her children Srilankan Universities?

    • 3
      1

      Politicians kids even if they cannot pass A/L still they get foreign education. So no one expects politicians to be educated in SL. :)

      • 3
        0

        Are all Sri Lankan Politicians crooks?

    • 0
      1

      Dr. RR: Before it came under Dr. RS, wasn’t the health ministry under the current Mr. President..difficult to pass the buck there, inconvenient, eh?

  • 2
    5

    What a load of crap as usual!
    Mount elizibeth hospital in Singapore has been the place where all our politicians have gone for DECADES!!!!
    And all of a sudden this is news???
    Ppplftttttt let’s not forget Duminda silva and his load of BS of a head injury at the same hospital……
    Why nobody questioned it then?
    Nobody bothered questioning about who’s footing the bill then……..somehow it has dawned on this writer that a white van won’t come for them if they write such articles now!

  • 7
    1

    I agree with the writer entirely and this was the first thing that crossed my mind too. I would also like to ask the minister where he found the money for his treatment?? All these politicians are tricksters-when they want votes they draw a parallel with the masses and say how poor and tough their beginnings were. When they get caught-out in matters such as this they then change gear to how wealthy they have been as their forefathers owned land and property and they became inheritors of such wealth.

    Anyway Rajitha is the residue of the Rajapakse era so you cant expect much from him.

  • 1
    4

    True enough, how can he give his body to be checked up by junk who fight for their own benefits? They will even make his health condition worse for coming up with proposals curbing the luxurious life led by you doctors? Even if this money is from the tax of the general public, it is us who should be worried and not doctors like you all who fight for car permits and private practice. Once you all pass with five to six “A” in O/L you study science and then you become and doctor. Once you become a doctor you complain about the government that gave you a free education and tell others as if it was your passion that drew you to become a doctor and serve the people. All these foreign graduates are bullshits. Technically speaking, it is not their cleverness that made you them doctors but its their parents wealth and nothing else. If the parents had been rich enough, all those who enter university for a B.Sc graduate degree can become doctors. How come these foreign graduates open their mouth to claim that they are clever fellows. They don’t have morals, and good attitude even. Their posh life and the way they are brought up is very well reflecting in the way they deal with the patients. It is a noble profession. How can you expect these rich money-made doctors to touch and talk nicely to the patients. I once witnessed in Vavuniya and Kilinochci hospital where a Chinese made doctor listening to a patient while talking to her boy friend keeping her mobile phone in the hand-free mode. You think these people will heal the poor. Sons and daughters of rich who spent half of their life in China and Russia at the pubs and discotheque pass the Medical council exams here in the second and third attempt are talking about their cleverness. Feel Ashamed!!

  • 4
    1

    ONCE again, a SLAP in the face for Sri Lankan doctors. Is it some secret that our political class is privy to? Instead of trusting the service that is his responsibility, he chooses something perceived to be better. The man’s a joker.

    Hey, but this is Sri Lanka……

    Where government ministers and MP’s go ABROAD for medical treatment.

    Where government ministers and MP’s send their children ABROAD for education.

    So, why is surprising that we think our governing political class are all dishonourable scoundrels?

  • 1
    1

    As a health minister who doesn’t ability to reform our medical system. he just collected ships and doesn’t want to do his job properly.

  • 2
    0

    what ever he does, [edited out]

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 2
    0

    I see no reason for any person to fly overseas for treatment if he/she can afford it.
    But I take umbrage on this ridiculous statement by the writer “as well as the professional integrity of the Minister.”
    Seriously!!!! what integrity?????

  • 2
    1

    The writer BK has every right to question that who will be be footing all the medical expenditure incurred by Rajitha in Singapore. It will be better if Rajapakse can table this question in parliament on behalf of joint opposition.

    By the same token Rajitha has the right to use his own insurance or own money or family members money. His health and his well being are paramount.

    Rajitha can not improve the Sri Lanka medical standards within a short period. MaRa had 2005 to 2014 to improve the medical system in SL.
    During MaRa regime how many of his family members and coalition parteners.?
    If not for the timely medical treatment SF received in Singapore,
    MaRa and GoRa couldn’t have won the war within few years.

    The opposition MPs should be ever ready to put these questions to the PM in the parliament.

    Without a stable govt SL can’t go forward.Also At the same time MaRa & Co must fade away or gracefully retire from politics.

    Rajitha going to Singapore is perfectly alright as long as the expenditure issue is settled in parliament.

  • 1
    1

    Rajitha Senaratne is a dentist who talks too much. The next dental ailment he has, we should expect to have the Singaporean doctors pronounce that his lips have to be zipped up.

    Next is, if he is the Minister of health and the medical system in Sri Lanka is not good enough, he is answerable as being incompetent. The GMOA should not be blamed because they are treated like street urchins by this minister. GMOA should stand their ground because if the system is inadequate, it is up to him as minister to address the shortcomings and remedy them. Being the minister is also “Being a good Manager” and that is what they are put there to do not go on trips and talk rubbish. He is rubbish, anyway. The curses against Yahapalanaya will come to roost!!! Karma comes chasing.

  • 2
    1

    The minister should have checked in at the Malabe Hospital and let the doctors there do the necessary operations and medical care etc: His daughter in law would have taken good care of him. If the treatment was successful it would have given a clean certificate to the hospital. Looks like he does not have faith in his own govt: hospitals or private hospitals in Sri Lanka. Did the local doctors advice him to go to Singapore as his condition is so serious that the operation or treatment could not have been done in a local hospital by local doctors?

  • 1
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 2
    1

    Does this mean, the Minister of Health has no confidence in the capabilities of the local doctors?

    If that is the case, then it needs to be rectified soon, as ordinary citizen cannot fly off to Singapore as and when needed.

    If the Minister is flying off to Singapore despite the required experts available in Sri Lanka, then he is wasting public funds and proper probe needs to be put in place. If this trip is not paid by the public, then Sir, i hope you get well soon.

  • 1
    1

    He cannot continue to hold his current portfolio.
    Did he go to Singapore using public funds?
    If he did he must pay all this back

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