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Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said he would take strict legal and administrative action against Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) as they had even involved President Maithripala Sirisena in their malicious, vituperative and acrimonious campaign against him.

The GMOA’s claim that President Sirisena told them during a discussion he had with them that a Presidential Commission would be appointed to look into the activities of the Health Ministry was an absolute lie, Minister Senaratne said.

Addressing a news briefing at Temple Trees yesterday, Minister Senaratne said that he had inquired form President Sirisena whether he was going to appoint a Presidential Commission to probe the activities at the Health Ministry and President Sirisena had replied one cannot appoint a commission to inquire into a government ministry but only to inquire into the activities of a government.

Minister Senaratne also said President Sirisena had never made any remark about a corrupt health minister at the meeting as claimed by the GMOA and added that even the President was irritated about the lies being spread by the GMOA.

“This lies of the GMOA are aimed at impressing young, unsuspecting doctors who enter the medical profession. The GMOA is not a trade union that serves the profession or the patients but a political outfit that promotes hatred and conflicts,” Minister Senaratne charged.

It was extremely difficult to take action against members of the GMOA who have been charged for medical negligence including raping patients. If and when they feel an incident in the Health Ministry, a hospital or a medical institution affects their dictatorial influence on the state health sector they behave like a gang of thugs and never hesitate to take the law into their own hands.

Minister Senaratne pointed out that the GMOA commits all these malicious and venomous acts with the aim of bringing its President to Parliament through the national list of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) at the next general election.

‘The Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), the regulator of the medical profession, was run in the past like a monopoly of the GMOA and promoted its agenda. I have decided to change the composition of the GMOA to put an end to the GMOA’s monopoly on it and set up an SLMC with the policies and principles similar to the British Medical Council. A committee of eminent persons has been appointed to make recommendations to the new SLMC in this regard,” Minister Senaratne stressed.

“I have been commended, praised and given awards not by Sri Lanka or the Sri Lankan media but by global agencies like the World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO) and many countries for what I have done for free health services in Sri Lanka. I have brought down the prices of nearly 75 essential drugs, thereby reducing the monthly medical bill of millions of diabetic, heart, arthritis, asthma and kidney patients in this country.

Since I was given the responsibility to run the Health Ministry in 2015, I have lifted the upper limit of Rs.1.5 million for free medication meant for cancer patients and today the Health Ministry spends up to Rs. 40 to 50 million for drugs per year to save the life of one cancer patient. A Stent for a heart patient costs around Rs. 450, 000. A contact lens for an eye patient costs around Rs. 30, 000. Both are today supplied by the Health Ministry free of charge saving the lives of thousands of heart patients and providing sight to thousands of patients. Stents and lenses are imported by the Health Ministry from the US and are of the highest quality. But the sad part of this is that I get calls from patients complaining that doctors were asking them to purchase Stents and contact lenses from the pharmacy they recommend. You know who gets the commission for from this process. They never talk about free Stents or lenses,” he noted.

Minister Senaratne noted that no one talks about the enormous service rendered to the country by the Indian funded ‘Suvasariya 1990’ free ambulance service that has saved the lives of millions by providing them with much needed pre-hospital care.

”This is a service ridiculed and insulted by the GMOA by saying it was an arm of the Indian secret service RAW and served by Indian doctors, medical staff and drivers depriving Sri Lankans of job opportunities,” Minister Senaratne charged.

Since 2015, the number of cancer units, blood banks, accidents services, maternity care units have doubled or even trebled in Sri Lanka providing more and more facilities to patients. The number of heart transplants, kidney transplants, arm and leg transplants have also increased with ultra-modern equipment, drugs etc being introduced and hundreds of new hospitals being constructed. (Sandun A Jayasekera)

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