GMOA up in arms against arrival of
Indian medical team
By Nirmala Kannangara
the government's decision to permit Indian doctors to
run a hospital in Pulmodai sidelining the Sri Lankan
doctors, a confrontation is brewing between Health
Ministry officials and the Government Medical Officers'
Association (GMOA), The Sunday Leader learns.
there are adequate doctors in the country and in some
instances when doctors are without work why did the
Health Minister get down a team of Indian doctors and
other medical staff to treat the internally displaced
persons (IDP) in the north?" asked Deputy Secretary GMOA,
Dr. Upul Gunasekera.
stated that the GMOA in consultation with the Health
Ministry had started a voluntarily programme to treat
the IDPs in the north and the east a few months back.
this backdrop what was the need for the government, and
the Health Ministry in particular, to get down a team of
Indian doctors to run a 50-bed hospital in Pulmodai
which is the first in the country's medical history?" he
asked, appearing visibly angry at what he considered was
an infringement of the rights of the GMOA.
According to Dr. Gunasekera lack of administrative
skills of Health Ministry officials had led to the
present state of "unethical dealings" at the Ministry.
He charged that the latest decision to permit the
Indians to run a hospital in Pulmodai was to instigate a
confrontation between Ministry officials and the GMOA.
GMOA he said called on Health Secretary Dr. Athula
Kahandaliyanage two weeks ago seeking clarification as
to why such a decision was taken when adequate doctors
were available to treat the IDPs in the north and the
east, and that so far they had not received any
According to Dr. Gunasekera the Health Ministry's
'deliberate failure' to consult the GMOA and the SLMC on
the issue would not only hamper the country's medical
profession which is comparable to that available in
developed countries and was the best in the region, but
would also result in bad repercussions for the patients.
are surprised that the government has permitted the
Indian doctors to run a hospital without the support of
our own doctors. If any foreign doctor wants to practise
here, he should get SLMC registration without which he
cannot practise in the country. In this instance none of
the Indian doctors have obtained SLMC registration,
neither have they applied for registration," Dr.
According to Dr. Gunasekera if a team of foreign
doctors are assigned to treat our own people then there
should be bilateral collaboration and unless there is
equal local representation it would be a risk to let
them work without supervision.
Gunasekera said that the GMOA was awaiting the Ministry
Secretary's report on how permission was granted to
Indian doctors to run a hospital. He warned if the GMOA
perceives any hidden agendas that would tarnish the
country's health sector, stern action would be taken
against the government.
Secretary Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage told The Sunday
Leader that the Indians responded positively to their
call and added that the Sri Lankan government had
requested such medical help not only from India but also
from other countries as well.
made an appeal to the foreign missions in the country
and International Non Governmental Organisations (INGO)
to help us in this hour of need. That is why the Indians
came to help us with medical assistance," added Dr.
Indian High Commission in Colombo responding, said, "
The medical team is a fully self-contained unit. All
equipment, including operation theatres, operating
tables, X-ray machines, ventilators, laboratory,
medicines, medical items and hospital stores (including
beds, tables, bed linen, etc) worth SL Rs. 70 million,
needed for a modern hospital have been sent with the
Indian medical team arrived in Sri Lanka on March 9 to
establish an emergency medical unit including a hospital
in Pulmodai as agreed with the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL)
to assist in supplementing the existing medical
facilities and attend to the medical needs of the IDPs
in the north.