Docs threaten more damaging strike in Galle district

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

More than 1000 doctors attached to the GMOA branch unions in the Galle district hospitals, including the Mahamodara and Karapitiya Teaching hospitals will launch 24-hour token strike tomorrow (27) commencing at 8.00 a.m. This is to protest against the police failure to arrest Galle mayor Methsiri de Silva who they accuse of obstructing the duties and abusing Medical Officer of Health Dr. Venura Singararchchi on September 19.

They had given 24-hours to the police to take action, the GMOA said.

The Union conducted a similar strike on Monday, but they exempted Mahamodera and Karapitiya teaching hospitals and Balapitya and Elpitiya base hospital.

GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Nalin Ariyaratne told The Island that the GMOA was compelled to take stronger trade union action in the Galle district due to threats and intimidation leveled against MOH Dr. Venura Sinagarachchi by the Galle mayor Methsiri de Silva.

When contacted Galle Municipal Council MOH Dr. Venura Singarachchi said that on September 19, Galle mayor Methsiri de Silva came to his office shouted at him in front of the staff. "He used filthy words. I have made a complaint to the Galle police for obstructing a public official from discharging his duties and threatening him to get out of the place. It is a flagrant violation of Penal Code section 344. The Galle police are inactive, but we have given 24-hour deadline to the police to arrest the mayor and produce him before the court. If the response of the police is negative, we will launch the scheduled strike," Dr,Singarachchi stressed.

The Galle mayor dismissed all allegations leveled against him and said that he had received many complaints against the MOH Dr. Singarachchi for neglect of duties. On that particular day many mothers had come to the municipal MOH with their babies for injections and vaccinations. But the MOH had deliberately delayed attending to them. Then some mothers had complained to him over the delay. He then went to the MOH office and asked him to get out of the office. After that the MOH had lodged an entry at the Galle police claiming obstruction and threatening him.

Mayor de Silva said that the MOH Dr. Singarachchi had disapproved the proposals made by him on many occasions. He had alleged that the Galle mayor had allowed the dumping of human excreta into the Mahamodara river and the Galle beach.

"I have not done anything wrong. I have not polluted the eco-system or the environment. What has happened is that a mysterious conspiracy to topple the Municipal administration has surfaced. It is my duty to safeguard the sick babies, ensuring their injections and vaccination procedures," mayor de Silva stressed.

Provincial Health Secretary Galle district K. Welaratna said that more than one million people would be affected during the strike. But the GMOA had promised to attend to emergency services. All OPDs. Clincs and the routine surgery would come to a standstill.

The Galle police HQI Sathis Gamage when contacted said that the case had been referred to the Conciliation Board, because the police could not arrest and produce a person just because he was abusive.

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