|Stoppage of allowances
Doctors abroad on specialised training threaten to return
by Irosha Weththasingha
Seventy two doctors who are sent to foreign countries by the government for special training programmes are preparing to abandon their courses and return to Sri Lanka because the government has stopped paying their allowance, Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) on Thursday.
Speaking to "The Island" the GMOA Secretary Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya said that these doctors are returning because they find it difficult to sustain themselves without the allowance. "The country is in need of consultants and hundreds of people go abroad seeking medical attention" Dr. Padeniya said pointing out that it is difficult to figure out why the ministry had cut off the allowance paid to these doctors who have gone there for specialized training.
These doctors were sent to countries like Australia, England and Singapore by the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) for specialized training for period of one year. The amount paid to a doctor for the training is about Rs. 1 million paid by instalments.
"Upto now everything was fine but suddenly the institute had stopped paying the allowance to doctors making it impossible for them to continue their training abroad" Dr. Padeniya said. He pointed out that this money is a great investment for the country because once these doctors return from their training they will be ready to perform advanced medical procedures in Sri Lanka.
Dr. Padeniya also pointed out that if these 72 doctors abandon their training and return, Sri Lanka will be blacklisted from these prestigious medical institutes spoiling the chances of other doctors who are scheduled to leave for training.
"At the moment 12 doctors are waiting to go abroad on the same training and they are worried" Dr. Padeniya said. He also said that the doctors at the PGIM are disturbed over the situation and they will hold a discussion about the matter on Saturday.
The director of the PGIM is out of the country and the officials denied commenting on the issue when contacted by "The Island".
The Secretary of the Health Ministry Mr. Thilak Ranaviraja stressed that the ministry has not stopped the allowance paid to these doctors. "There was some delay in paying the allowance for the month of November but we paid it later" he said. The secretary also said that Rs. 50 million has been paid for the duration of one year to these doctors. "They have asked for an additional sum of Rs. 8 million for expenses and we asked for a report giving the details of how the sum was spent" he said adding that when the report arrive the ministry will consider giving the additional amount.
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