Docs to strike in Polonnaruwa today

By Don Asoka Wijewardena  

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday said that a 24-hour strike would be staged in the Polonnaruwa District today, in protest against the health ministry’s failure to take action against the present General Secretary of the Public Health Inspectors’ Union.

Around 500 doctors attached to the Polonnaruwa General Hospital, three base hospitals, eight district hospitals and peripheral clinics and rural hospitals would participate in the strike commencing at 8:00 a.m. today and ending at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, he said.

The GMOA said arrangements had been made to attend to all emergency cases.

GMOA media spokesman Dr. Navin de Soysa told The Island that PHI A. M. S. Bandara, who was the General Secretary of the PHIs’ Union had been attached to the Sri Lanka Navy a few years back. While he was under training he had deserted the Navy and been later detained. But, he had applied for a PHI post and been selected. The GMOA asked the Ministry how a Navy deserter had been recruited.

Dr. Soysa said that Bandara had also asked the other PHIs not to wear uniform and he never wore a uniform while he was on duty and that was a breach of discipline. But no action had been taken by the Ministry against him so far, Dr. Soysa said.

He said Polonnaruwa was the Health Minister’s seat, But Minister Sirisena was silent on the issue.

When contacted PHI union General Secretary A. M. S. Bandara claimed that the GMOA was after him as he had brought to the notice of higher authorities a fraud committed by an epidemiologist.

Bandara alleged that the epidemiologist had embezzled Rs. 400,000 from the dengue control programme funds which belonged to the PHIs who did overtime. "I reported the case to the higher authorities. Since then the GMOA has been after me. The GOMA is a trade union. It has no right to launch strikes over issues concerning other unions. The GMOA has made many baseless allegations against me. I have asked PHIs not to wear uniforms while they are on raids, because no sooner PHIs are sighted in uniform, the errant traders escape. So I have asked them to go in civvies so as not to draw attention."

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