By Granville Perera –
The strike called by the GMOA with the support of about 30 odd trade unions in the health, education and transport sectors proved to be just another “Puswedilla”. They only used their licence to kill by depriving the poorest in Sri Lanka of medical attention. Now, they are threatening to strike again, with more venom. They do this while they enjoy all the perks and privileges offered by the State including license to practice in private hospitals. The Government should use an iron whip and bring in legislation where trade union action becomes a criminal non bailable offence related to essential services. An iron fisted rule of Lee Kuan Yew or our own Gota style seems to be the only style of governance that would be understood by these mercenaries of health. Hope Sarath Fonseka would be able to fit in to his former subordinate’s shoes and deliver. I am sure; there would be even public support for white vanning this medical mafia.
The maverick in Parliament, Ranjan Ramanayake provided documentary evidence that Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya, the Mahinda Rajapaksa stooge and disciple and President of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) was caught in the act by confirming his consultation appointment on the 5th of May 2017 when doctors around the country were supposed to be on strike, called by the GMOA. A journalist plant of the GMOA probably would have tipped off Padeniya that Ranjan Ramanayake had called a press conference to prove that “Pavadena ya” was consulting private patients while the entire GMOA was supposed to be on strike, hence the call from the private hospital cancelling Ramanayake’s appointment during the press conference. What a hypocrite who took the Hippocratic oath. He should be sacked from Government service for this scandalous offence and investigated for the crimes he committed to the poor patients. Its time, Ravi’s taxmen went after them during the consultation hours and insist that hospitals issues official receipts for doctor’s fees. How disgraceful can it get when you think of the genuine doctors who earned the highest respect and served the country only a few decades ago. The poor patients worshiped them and the current day doctors have only curses from the poor. I knew of a few who would pay for the medicine of the poor if they were not available in the hospital.
The current breed of pompous Government medical practitioners seems to have taken total control of the poor man’s life and each time the Government farts, they go for trade union action compromising the health of the poorest segment of the country. It is time the country took these dirty bulls by their horns and reined them in through Sarath Fonseka or a people’s movement that can kick the asses of these bloody mercenaries who call themselves doctors. Gone are the days when the doctors were the most respected, and worshiped for their yeomen service. The fault lies with the Government for opening this noble profession to undesirables who do not posses basic social etiquette. Private medical services should be curtailed long before private medical education is censured. Those serving in government hospitals should not be allowed to practice anywhere outside, whether it is in their own private practice chambers or any of the swindling private hospitals. Holding the health sector to ransom by these mercenaries is because of the short supply of medical professionals in this country. SAITM and the thousands of students who study abroad can fill this vacuum, but these vultures that probably do not understand the Hippocratic oath will not allow this to happen. All this may change when the government signs the ECTA agreement with India, which will enable Indian professionals to practice in Sri Lanka. Laws should also be amended to allow foreign specialist doctors to serve in both private and state medical facilities without ERPM. A good precedent is the excellent medical professionals currently working for private medical services with the highest professional etiquette. Their professionalism is beyond question and they treat patients with due respect and allocate at least 20 minutes per patient. How many of our medical mercenaries even spend 5 minutes with a patient?
The SAITM protests started claiming the standards were substandard and the wealthy paid their way in to medical education without the required A/L qualifications. mySAITM stories brought out the brilliance of these kids who have chosen to live and study in Sri Lanka even refusing scholarships from foreign universities. Dr. Nalinda Herath, the secretary of the GMOA who had forgotten his Advanced Level examination results is accused of getting in through the district quota with three simple passes. He hasn’t denied the allegation yet. How can this doctor who could not remember his AL results remember what he studied at medical school when he has to treat hundreds of patients everyday. Those who talk about standards in education and who crept in through the district quota have had substandard education. How can one expect to trust a patient’s life with someone who is nowhere closer to the brilliance of SAITM kids?
SAITM students need not sit for an ERPM exam as they would study local medical conditions as part of their curricula, but they hold to ransom the hundreds who qualify abroad and have to go for ERPM classes paying exorbitant fees in classes where at least 400 students gather in one class. Their earnings for a 2-3 hour session is a minimum of Rs.450,000. Only Wele Suda or Potta Naufer will probably earn more than this holier than thou mafia. How they fleece these innocent children who have scarified the best part of their lives in hellholes without parental love or the privileges of home to become medical professionals. This unregulated medical mafia ensures that only a limited number gain entrance to the system by failing them in the viva. Even those who qualify are sent to god forsaken places in the country while these vultures who have studied and lived off our tax money get the best hospitals for their internship.
It is time the Government took some forward looking steps to regulate the medical profession and bring in independent administrators to regulate this profession without allowing them to regulate themselves. Criminal negligence or malpractice in their profession cannot be moved in Courts as one will not be able to find a doctor who would give evidence against their own. Even doctors who are not a member of the
GMOA will stand by them when they are threatened by legal or any other action by civilians. This has to stop or the people may be driven to take the law into their hands, which would obviously be a dangerous precedent.
Trade Union Action:
While trade union action is part of any thriving democracy, but there should be limits to its exercise. Those that put peoples’ life at risk, whether they are doctors or security forces, those who perform essential services should be debarred from strike action. A mechanism should be developed through a high-powered arbitration committee similar to the Constitutional Council that should be above political interference. Activities of politically motivated trade unions should be made punishable as a criminal act. These may sound dictatorial, but for an emerging nation, a Lee Kwan Yew needs to emerge.