Attempts to deprive Dr. Mendis of extension worries unions

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

An attempt was being made to deprive Director General Health Services (DGHS), Dr. Ajith Mendis of an extension, alleges a section of health sector trade unions.

Chief of the Graduate Association of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (GAPSM) Ravi Kumudesh told The Island that some drug companies and their associates at the Health Ministry wanted Dr. Mendis.

Kumudesh said yesterday that it would be a severe blow to the Health Service if the companies and their Ministry supporters succeeded in preventing the DGHS from being given a service extension. "We are not trying to influence the decision, which has to be taken by the President, but are trying to warn all parties concerned against a pending dilemma in the Health service," he said.

"If they are able to influence and manipulate the process, next time they might even decide who the next Health Minister should be," he said.

Kumudesh warned that influence such as that had succeeded in toppling governments in other countries.

Charges of corruption and theft were being leveled against the DGHS for some of the decisions that were taken during the time of his predecessor. Some of them were corruption charges regarding a deal over Rs.18 million. He has been accused of misleading the Health secretary into passing funds for the medical equipment when they were already available with the Medical Supplies Division (MSD). In addition, he has also been accused of creating a medicine shortage in the country, he said

"However, you cannot act according to the book during a disaster or an emergency situation as during the tsunami and the situation that arose towards the end of the conflict. They waited for two to three years to raise a cry against it," he said.

An inquiry was held two years ago, by the Health Secretary and he was found guiltless. The Presidential Investigation Unit also carried out an investigation into the charges leveled against him but the report is yet to be released.

Kumudesh said this was all being brought up now because the DG was due to retire in August when turnung 60. He alleged that the campaign was funded by some disgruntled drug companies which had been unable to influence ministerial decisions regarding drugs and medical equipment.

Several health trade unions, including the Public Service United Nurses’ Union (PSUNU), Entomological, Store keepers and the free health service trade unions have united to express their displeasure at the manner in which the situation is being handled.

PSUNU Chief. Ven. Muruttetuwe Ananda, when contacted, said that this was a ploy carried out by self-interested parties to increase their lot. But the Joint Trade Unions would resort to trade union action if it came to a push, he added. However, he did not specify what TU action would be taken.

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