Eliyantha White praised in Parliament



It was not many moons ago that he was under rapid fire for the alternative system of medicine he practiced, even described as a "quack" at times by his detractors, but Dr. Eliyantha White, the personal physician of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is now a jubilant man.

With those difficult times when he was misunderstood and his actions misinterpreted behind him as a painful phase of his life, the controversial doctor of medicine was all smiles as he enthused last week, "It was a big challenge to clear my name".

It was at a juncture when they targeted him with ferocity and the flak seemed infinite that the President himself suggested that he undertake the challenge to cure 15 patients Opposition parliamentarians would refer to him for treatment.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prove that I have always done what’s right to ease human suffering", Dr. White told The Sunday Island. "I took up the challenge with fortitude and they are now clamoring to laud me".

Asked the nature of ailments some of these patients suffered from, he replied, "There were patients with cancer, severe spinal pain and Leishmaniasis (A skin disease) amongst them".

Interestingly, during the recent adjournment debate in Parliament on legal recognition to alternative systems of treatment, members were unanimous in complimenting the physician’s performance, with A. H. M. Azwer pointing out that "it is very rarely that we witness an adjournment motion acceptable to all members of both sides of the House. This is one such rare moment".

Moving the motion, Palitha Range Bandara said that White has treated patients not only in Sri Lanka but overseas as well. He had rendered remarkable service. His name had surfaced in the House many a time but whatever the statements made, the fact remains that his services had been sought by Government and Opposition members alike in addition to the Attorney General and people in different strata of life.

He tabled in the House letters of appreciation from many persons including Minister Lakshman Seneviratne and Bandula Gunawardena, Lal Wickrematunga (Brother of slain Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga), national cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Tilakaratne Dilshan.

The MP said that various accusations against White have now been proven wrong. They are without foundation. It is on record that Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar had also come to Sri Lanka with his wife Anjalika to seek treatment from him and was cured.

"I am glad my name has been cleared and given a clean slate by parliamentarians in the august Assembly", White noted. "It’s a big relief after being attacked virtually from all fronts".

"They targeted me unfairly but despite the harsh criticism, the President stood by me and his confidence in my work remained unshaken", he stressed. "I knew the truth will surface one day".

The withdrawal of security provided to the physician also drew the attention of many parliamentarians. It was a contentious issue as White was described as the "President’s personal physician" and faced threats to his life in the line of duty.

While A. D. Champika Premadasa, MP, said the President should provide adequate security to this physician as he could face threats, Minister Dinesh Gunawardena assured that necessary security and all possible facilities are being provided to him. "We appreciate his services to humanity".

Parliamentarian Mrs. Anoma Gamage also acknowledged that security is of paramount importance to protect an eminent physician who had treated world-renowned personalities. "It is a national duty to ensure his personal protection".

MPs John Amaratunga and Ranjan Ramanayake also joined in, calling for adequate protection to White as he faced threats from foes as a popular figure. Amaratunga said that White’s security had been withdrawn.

Asked whether his personal protection was withdrawn, the doctor replied, "Yes, it was done away with after I was unfairly targeted by critics".

"White is a Sri Lankan doctor. Without making him a UPFA physician, his services should be made available to all parliamentarians alike, whether in government or opposition", Ramanayake noted.

"Dr. White has a proven track record; not everyone who goes under that label of being able to cure people of ailments has a good track record", MP Vasantha Senanayake pointed out. He proposed a criteria for recognizing practitioners of alternative medicine.

"He has brought honor to Sri Lanka by curing some distinguished figures in India", said parliamentarian Palitha Tewarapperuma. "I have personal experience because White cured a skin disorder my son suffered from. I consulted the best of doctors earlier, but nobody could do it".

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