EMER­GENCY: NEW SLMC LAW NEEDED SOON

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - EDITORIAL -

With Rail­way en­gine driv­ers and their as­sis­tants launch­ing a fast­track or light­ning strike which gov­ern­ment lead­ers and most peo­ple are de­scrib­ing as trade union ter­ror­ism, we wish to fo­cus at­ten­tion on a more im­por­tant area, the med­i­cal field, which also has been hit by trade union ter­ror­ism.

The Sri Lanka Med­i­cal Coun­cil is sup­posed to be the high­est gov­ern­ing body for medicine. Its Pres­i­dent the em­i­nent physi­cian Pro­fes­sor Colvin Gu­naratne re­signed this week over a range of is­sues in­clud­ing trade union ter­ror­ism, though he po­litely re­frained from us­ing those words.

With more than 50 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the med­i­cal field, Prof. Gu­naratne has urged the gov­ern­ment to draft a com­pletely new law for the SLMC and we hope the gov­ern­ment would do this soon be­cause the lives of mil­lions of poor in­no­cent peo­ple are at stake.

In an in­ter­view on Wed­nes­day with State Tele­vi­sion Ru­pavahini, Prof. Gu­naratne said if there was a world cup for the high­est num­ber of strikes by med­i­cal doc­tors, Sri Lanka’s Gov­ern­ment Med­i­cal Of­fi­cers’ As­so­ci­a­tion would emerge as the cham­pi­ons. He said med­i­cal doc­tors and nurses should set­tle is­sues through di­a­logue be­cause strikes by them were uneth­i­cal and im­moral be­cause they hurt mainly mil­lions of in­no­cent peo­ple, who could not af­ford to go to pri­vate hos­pi­tals.

Prof. Gu­naratne, in an ex­ten­sive two-hour in­ter­view, pointed out that in Bri­tain, the Gen­eral Med­i­cal Coun­cil in its first clause said its pri­mary aim was to give pri­or­ity to the well-be­ing of the peo­ple and es­pe­cially pa­tients. But the SLMC which was setup on the ba­sis of the ar­chaic Med­i­cal Or­di­nance had no such dec­la­ra­tion that its pri­mary aim was the well-be­ing of the peo­ple of our coun­try. That was why he was urg­ing the gov­ern­ment to to­tally re­vise the SLMC laws, though the strike-rid­den GMOA is threat­en­ing another strike if the gov­ern­ment fol­lowed Prof. Gu­naratne’s ad­vice.

Ac­cord­ing to Prof. Gu­naratne, as the SLMC Pres­i­dent for the past few months he was un­able to give pri­or­ity to the well-be­ing of the peo­ple be­cause the 25-mem­ber SLMC was dom­i­nated by two pow­er­ful trade unions which had as many as 16 elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the SLMC. The two unions were the GMOA and the Med­i­cal Col­lege Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

The SLMC build­ing’s top floor is like a court room where cases could be heard with de­fence and pros­e­cu­tion lawyers and a wit­ness box. But so far, the SLMC had re­ceived only about 120 pe­ti­tions against med­i­cal per­son­nel and hear­ings were con­ducted only in four cases. One of them in­volved a con­tro­ver­sial GMOA leader.

Prof. Gu­naratne said the GMOA ap­peared to be so keen on the eight mem­bers it elected to the SLMC, that mem­bers were brought down in spe­cial buses from dis­tant places in­clud­ing Jaffna to elect the rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Since the GMOA and the Med­i­cal Col­lege Teach­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion had vir­tu­ally a two-thirds ma­jor­ity in the SLMC, the pa­tients well-be­ing was low on the list of pri­or­i­ties. Prof. Gu­naratne quipped that if he were the Pres­i­dent of Sri Lanka, he would or­der the draft­ing of a new SLMC law im­me­di­ately, whereby the pa­tients well-be­ing would get pri­or­ity. He pointed out that in most Western coun­tries, the med­i­cal coun­cils gave pri­or­ity to the peo­ple’s well -be­ing. Even in In­dia the old med­i­cal coun­cil was scrapped and a law en­acted to ap­point a new med­i­cal coun­cil not so much for the ben­e­fit of med­i­cal doc­tors, but for the peo­ple.

Prof. Gu­naratne pointed out that of the es­ti­mated 33,000 med­i­cal doc­tors in Sri Lanka some 20,000 were mem­bers of the GMOA. He made a fer­vent ap­peal to the med­i­cal doc­tors to go for a di­a­logue when they face var­i­ous is­sues in­stead of strik­ing at mil­lions of poor peo­ple. He ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion that nurses were now not so prone to the dis­ease of strikes be­cause the gov­ern­ment had worked out plans for them to get a de­gree in nurs­ing. Prof. Gu­naratne pointed out that the strikes by nurses could af­fect the pa­tients more than the strikes by doc­tors be­cause it was the nurses who were with the pa­tients all day and all night. So he ap­pealed to med­i­cal doc­tors and nurses to see their work as a vo­ca­tion and give pri­or­ity to the well-be­ing of the pa­tients so that a healthy Sri Lanka could pave the way for a wealthy Sri Lanka.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Sri Lanka

© PressReader. All rights reserved.