GMOA asks President to sack health Minister


Addressing the media at the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) at the OPA building, (From Left) Member of the GMOA Media Committee, Dr Prasad Kolambage, Secretary, Dr Haritha Aluthge and Assistant Secretary, Dr Naveen D. Zoysa. (Pic by Dharmasena Welipitiya)

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday urged the President to take steps to remove Health Minister, Dr Rajith Senaratne and Health Secretary, Janaka Sugathadasa from their positions.

Addressing the media at the OPA in view of today’s (30) token strike over ten demands inclusive of amending the extra duty allowance in keeping with the basic salaries of doctors, GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr Naveen D. Zoysa said the health portfolio should be given to some competent enough to function in that capacity. It should not be held by one who was bent on taking revenge from doctors because they were against the private school of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM).

Dr. Zoysa said the Health Secretary had been unavailable to discuss several issues pertaining to doctors. "In 2016 we voiced our opinion that former Finance Minister, UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake was not a suitable choice for the finance portfolio and we stand vindicated. Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne although a doctor is unsuitable for the position as has been proved time and again," he alleged.

Dr. Zoysa said that although Dr Senaratne saw himself as the modern day Prof. Senaka Bibile and referred to the pharmaceutical industry as a mafia, the GMOA wondered why he had taken immediate action to increase the prices of drugs that were lowered by him in 2016.

GMOA Secretary, Dr Haritha Aluthge said the union had written to the Health Secretary, requesting a discussion with him to iron out the issues faced by doctors but to no avail. "We finally sent him text messages requesting a date and time for discussions," he said.

The GMOA is also protesting against the government’s inability to abolish SAITM and finding a lasting solution to the attendant issues, violation by the government of the National Salaries Policy (NSP) through special Cabinet papers to increase the basic salaries of certain categories of state employees, delay in amending the Duty Availability and Transport Allowance (DAT) to meet the present demands, the Health Ministry’s failure to issue vehicle permits with tax concessions to doctors, reduction of the communication allowance for doctors from Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 2,500 despite the directive of the National Salaries and Cadre Commission and making political appointments to vacant hospital administrative positions.

The GMOA Secretary said all Women’s and Children’s hospitals, the ‘Apeksha,’ Hospital for cancer patients and renal care units would be exempted from the strike. All emergencies, too, would be attended to, he added.

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