Doctors threaten strike in 250 MOH areas

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya yesterday urged Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena to immediately intervene to halt the tug of war between the nurses and midwives. If he failed to intervene from today all the doctors serving in 250 MOH areas would keep away from work.

He pointed out that the College of Surgeons, National Institute of Health Sciences and the GMOA yesterday unanimously agreed to request Minister Maithripala Sirisena, Health Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka and Director General Health Services Dr.Palitha Maheepala to immediately intervene to settle the conflict between the nurses and the midwives as the Public Service United Nurses Union (PSUNU) President Ven. Muruttetuwe Ananda Thera had made a statement that the PSUNU would detail trainee nurses to the MOH offices to work with the doctors in immunization, ante-natal, post partum clinics.

Dr. Padeniya said that no doctor would be working with the nursing trainees at the MOH offices. The GMOA General Committee yesterday took a strong decision not to work with the nursing trainees at the MOH areas and offices. Because the doctors did not depend on the services provided by the trainee nurses. The PSUNU President was a law unto himself. In accordance with the Sri Lanka Medical Ordinance section 54 clearly mentioned that there could not be nurse/midwife. Only midwives could attend to deliveries. The President of the PSUNU had better see the Ordinance before instigating the nurses to launch baseless trade union action.

Health Minister and Health Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka were only listening to PSUNU President. They were reluctant to take a straightforward decision on the burning issue. When the public health services in Sri Lanka collapsed the image of Sri Lanka would be tarnished. The GMOA had received a call from the Geneva Human Rights Commission yesterday about the destruction of the maternity care services in Sri Lanka. The GMOA had told them that the GMOA had officially requested Minister Sirisena, Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka and Director General of Health Services Dr. Palitha Maheepala to immediately intervene into settle the matter. But their approach was not encouraging whatsoever, the GMOA President charged.

PSUNU Vice President D. Boralessa when contacted for comment accused the GMOA for taking decisions in favour of the midwives. In fact the PSUNU would be willing to see the Medical Ordinance which contained section 54 that there could not be ‘nurse/midwife’. The PSUNU did not believe in the authenticity of the GMOA any longer. The PSUNU was aware of the ulterior motives of the GMOA.

He pointed out that PSUNU had never made any statements that it would detail trainee nurses to MOH offices to work with doctors. The PSUNU had assured the services of qualified nurses to work in MOH offices. "We have decided to detail qualified nurses from Karapitiya, Kandy, Anuradapura and Kurunegala hospitals to all the MOH areas to replace the midwives who were refusing to work until their demands were fulfilled.

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