Docs strike demanding PHI union chief’s removal

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

Around 900 doctors attached to the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) in Polonnaruwa District will launch a token strike today in protest of the Health Ministry’s inability to take action against Public Health Inspector L. Bandara, GMOA said.

GMOA General Committee member Dr. Haritha Aluthge said that doctors at the Polonnaruwa General hospital, Medirigiriya Base hospital, Dehiattakandiya Base hospital and all the MOH areas, including the peripheral clinics in the Polonnaruwa district would be on strike from 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. in protest of the Health Ministry’s inability to conduct an impartial inquiry against Bandara.

Dr. Aluthge alleged that PHI Bandara was a Navy deserter detained by the Navy. He had been recruited as a PHI while serving in the Navy, the GMOA member said.

An investigation had been held by Health Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayathilaka and PHI Bandara had been found guilty. The GMOA was of the view that the investigation conducted was not impartial due to political interference.

Dr. Aluthge said that the GMOA would ask the Ministry to interdict PHI Bandara and conduct the investigation afresh.

When contacted PHI Bandara said that he had been the General Secretary of the PHI union for a long time. The GMOA was against him as he had exposed some frauds by doctors. He said he had been released by the Navy to be appointed as a PHI.

Polonnaruwa Regional Director Health Service Dr. Noel Udugama, contacted for comment, said he had made contingency plans to face the strike. Only OPDs and clinics would be closed, but all emergency cases would be attended to, he said.

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