Docs to strike in protest against Thonda’s interference, threats


By Don Asoka Wijewardena

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Executive Committee yesterday unanimously decided to launch the scheduled 24-hour token strike in 13 MOH areas in the Nuwara-Eliya district commencing 8.00 a.m. today as there was no response from the Livestock and Community Development Minister Arumugam Thondaman.

GMOA General Committee member Dr. Haritha Aluthge told The Island that the GMOA had expected a positive response from Minister Thondaman yesterday as he had abused MOH Kotagala Dr. Janaka Abeygunawardena and had asked him to get transferred out of the district. Dr. Abeygunawardena had been performing his duties to the satisfaction of his superiors and had ordered Estate Medical Assistants (EMA) to conduct raids on errant traders in the area.

Dr. Aluthge claimed that traders with links to Minister Thondaman had made false complaints that they were being harassed by the MOH and PHIs attached to Kotagala MOH office. Then Minister Thondaman had telephoned the Central Province Provincial Health Director Dr. Mrs. Shanthi Samarasinghe and asked her to transfer MOH Abeygunawardena immediately. But Dr. Mrs. Samarasinghe had told Minister Thondaman that she had no valid reason to transfer him.

The GMOA met Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena on June 16 over the issue. Minister Sirisena had told the GMOA that he would send a letter to Minister Thondaman not to behave in an aggressive manner undermining the job security of the medical officers. Although Minister Sirisena sent a letter to Minister Thondaman there was no positive response, he said.

The GMOA had no alternative but to launch the strike commencing today in denunciation of Minister Thondaman’s attitude, Dr. Aluthge said.

The GMOA Committee member said around 13 MOH areas in the Nuwara-Eliya District would be closed. The immunisation, ante-natal and well-women clinics would also be closed. The GMOA said it regretted the inconvenience caused by the strike to the people in the district.

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