|Wednesday, 6 August 2003|
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It is heartening to hear that a group of people has set up an action group "Patient's Rights". Since the "patients" seem to be a helpless, oppressed lot, this move seems to be an ideal solution and is timely.
The patients are also citizens - they have rights and it's time that the rights of this "forceless" category defended, especially during the strikes by doctors, nurses, RMPs and even minor staff.
Usually, it is said that the so-called emergency service is continued during all those strikes. Everybody assume that no serious harm happens to the patients. Is it true? No the truth is far from it.
On one hand, how does one decide what is an emergency? If a child has viral flu it may not be an emergency, but who can predict that it will not turn out to be Dengue or meningitis?
The first 24 hours treatment can make all the difference - not only between life and death - but also between temporary and permanent disability.
An eye infection is not considered an emergency, the patient might not die of it, but may end up losing sight, even partially.
Even a mild pain in the leg can be the sign of a severe heart disease. Only the doctor knows the connection - and that too by proper examination and investigation - not by looking at the pain on the patient's face.
On the other hand, even when emergency cases are attended to, the ward treatment can never be completed without the doctors.
Again the invisible damage of the prolongation of diseases take place, detected neither by the doctor nor the patient. So no more doctor's strikes. Let us mete out justice to our fellow citizens. If all the doctors will not follow suit, I call upon at least the Muslim doctors - you all have a responsibility and you know no submission to the created beings is allowed, if it is contrary to the order of the Creator, and if a patient is suffering it is the bounden duty of a Muslim doctor to treat him - irrespective of any other pressures.
Some doctors have resigned from the GMOA but that is the path of the weak and way of the cowards. Do stay on and try to change the trend of this menace.
Let's show the world what is right and just!
Dr. Mrs. MAREENA THAHA REFFAI, Dehiwela
Doctors should not abandon patients. I was suddenly informed by the hospital management that the gynaecologist of six months, whom I happened to consult had migrated. It was an emergency and no other doctor could be found at the hospital. Neither the doctor, nor the hospital had made any arrangement to systematically transfer the patients to another doctor, or at least inform the patients of her migration.
Doctors should be far more considerate, and the GMOA has a responsibility to the public to ensure that doctors do not leave the island abandoning their patients.
The general opinion in the hospital was that the doctor did not want them to inform the patients because then she would lose considerable income as patients would have found alternative treatment elsewhere.
C. PERERA, Patient of six months, Via e-mail.
Much has been written in the Press recently on the anniversary of July 1983. While generally there has been national atonement, much that can be done by the authorities to bring even little relief appears to be deliberately denied - adding to the pain and misery of those who were targeted to suffer.
The Truth Commission recommended compensation to the value of about Rs. 72 million in all to those representations which the Commission found deserving and those received within stipulated period and criteria.
This is clearly a woefully inadequate sum - looked at from any reasonable angle.
I know of at least two prominent Tamil families in the Colombo District - who lost most of their wealth and possessions coming from generations and who are now virtually in the streets. Their losses in today's terms will arrive at over Rs. 25 million each. Sadly even this pittance recommended by the Truth Commission has not been paid up to now.
I am told representations have been made to the authorities for prompt payment - by individuals who testified before the Commission - but the State bureaucracy remains totally unmoved.
To pour salt into Tamils wounds some unkind letters have found their way to the Press - suspected to be calculated to sabotage the recommendations of the Truth Commission to compensate Tamils who lost their all.
These letters demand no compensation should be paid for those Tamils brought down to their knees and thrown off their homes and livelihoods following the events of July '83. They unabashedly claim why on earth should the Tamil be compensated - while several Sinhalese in uniform also died in July '83?
This appeal is so nauseating it does not warrant a reply in a civilized and caring society such as the one we proudly boast ours now to be.
I very much hope this letter catches the attention of the powers that be who might then be pleased to waive off the shackles of officialdom and cause relief to a suffering section of our nation who have waited for justice and fair play for so long and to whom the findings of the Truth Commission provided some sort of solace.
The relief recommended must be given now and without any further bureaucratic obstacles.
V. S. SATHANANDAN, Kandy.
These days, parents, whose children have reached the school-going age, are getting ready in collecting the documents essential for admission to Gr. I for the year 2004. With this aim in view, most parents do their best to admit their children to one of the prestigious or national schools, which has won the name and fame as a respectable educational institute of high calibre with all facilities for learning and recreation.
However, for some parents it is only a dream, but there are others who get their children eligible for admission, by submitting forged documents prepared by those who are supposed to be experts at the job. It is said that these men, sometimes, demand Rs. 25,000 or even more as black money to prepare the required documents. Bribery is another likely approach in achieving the end.
These fraudulent and deceptive art is well-known to the Education Department, school principals and others as well, but they remain unconcerned, so long as the required documents, in proof of eligibility for admission to Gr. I, are produced at the interview.
The first selection Board is comprised the Principal and his staff.
Any child who gets rejected at the first interview, had the chance of appealing against the decision to an Appeal Board for reconsideration. But, according to Ministry sources, this practice has now been scrapped to prevent bribery and corruption.
Why this rat race for selected schools is a well-known fact. So long as the Government is prepared to bring all schools to a uniform standard with all facilities and lacking nothing, this rush for admission to Grade I will obviously remain unchanged.
To prevent the submission of false and forged documents, and in order to prove the eligibility of the child for admission, the best course of action is to insist on an affidavit supporting the application, because the penalty for any false declaration for admission is imprisonment, since it is done before a JP.
ARYADASA RATNASINGHE, Mattegoda
There are many of us who have worked hard all our lives and who have retired to live on our savings.
We do not burden the Government and have our own Health Insurance Policies. During our working lives we planned, budgeted, and saved for our independence during the remaining few years of our lives.
However, during the past year, Monetary Policies of the Central Bank have made our lives extremely difficult. Their attempts to encourage borrowings by the private sector, etc., to build new businesses and expand existing companies by lowering interest rates, have resulted in a drastic reduction of interest rates on savings accounts and fixed deposits.
It was only last year that Banks placed luring advertisements offering 9% to 12% on normal savings book accounts and up to 15% on fixed deposits.
Without prior notification to customers, Banks have over the past few months, reduced bank savings books interest rates to around 5 - 6%, with the likelihood of a further drop in rates.
Most banks do not send out savings book statements to their clients, and we find out only when we check our Books after a transaction.
Senior citizens are also burdened with the 10% withholding tax and normal Income Tax.
There are many of us who live in our own homes which have to be repaired, maintained, and painted. We have cars which need the same sort of attention.On the present Income Tax bracket of Rs. 20,000 a month, one barely survives! Converted to US dollars, it is a beggarly US$ 206! Around US$ 7 per day. It is indeed shameful. US$ 7 will not buy us a breakfast if we are on an overseas holiday.
It also acts as a disincentive to just about everybody. Why should a person strive for more when the allowable income is a paltry Rs. 666 a day?
My monthly outgoings on some items are Rs. 2,000 for electricity, Rs. 400 on water, Rs. 2,000 on newspapers and news magazines, Telephone Rs. 2,000 approx. exclusive of IDD calls. Then there are the outgoings on Gas, petrol, pet food, occasional gardener (who will charge a minimum of Rs. 200 a day) and so on.
We then have annual expenses: Car Insurance, Health Insurance, Car Revenue Licence, Rates and Taxes, Repairs and Maintenance.
Some of us may need medicines, doctors visits, servants wages, gifts for friends and relatives, and so on.
The authorities should take note of all of this and also bear in mind the fact that senior citizens must be given the opportunity to live in dignity and be spared unnecessary trials and tribulations.
These are the sunset years of our lives. Give us the peace we need.
LINDA VAN SCHAGEN, Mount Lavinia
A few days ago a new building for the Medical Council was opened at Norris Canal Road.
At the opening ceremony the chief guest Dr. P. R. Anthonis said that the new offices provided the long felt need of the ambience of true professionalism in medical services. The President of the Sri Lanka Medical Council Dr. H. H. R. Samarasinghe said "It must be emphasized that the general duty of the Council is to protect the public and to uphold the reputation of the profession".
He also said that the Council is empowered by the Medical Ordinance to conduct disciplinary inquiries for the registered medical practitioners and all other registered categories for alleged serious professional misconduct, for which their licence to practise may be cancelled or suspended if one is found guilty at a quasi-judicial inquiry conducted by the disciplinary committees.
In pursuance of these noble ideals I filed an affidavit against an Indian medical specialist specializing in dental implants on the 3rd of April 1998.
After the exchange of several letters, during which time no action was taken against this medical practitioner, on the 11th of June 2001 the registrar of the Medical Council, wrote to me among other things that since the registration of this Indian doctor has lapsed in September 1998 and since he has not applied for re-registration and is not resident in Sri Lanka it is no longer possible to continue with the inquiry.
I had indisputable evidence with X ray photographs to prove the gross negligence of the Indian doctor and I challenged the Medical Council to permit the OMF surgeon to offer evidence.
That was rejected. In reply to a letter published in the Daily News of 24th August 2001 by the registrar of the Medical Council, the Daily News on the 7th of September 2001 published my reply accusing the Medial Council of shielding this Indian doctor. There I wrote among other things "Expert opinion by the OMF surgeon was not allowed to be presented. So it is not true to say that expert opinion was obtained. The rest is an arrogant insult to the intelligence of the public to be told that my case was thrown out because there was no formal hearing.
"To the Medical Council I say that my case was thrown out because if the surgeon had been permitted to present evidence, they would have had no option but to bring in a verdict of guilty against the accused doctor. I challenge the Medical Council to prove otherwise without attempting to distort facts as they have done so far."
In my affidavit I have not claimed one cent of compensation from the accused doctor but only wanted his licence to practise in Sri Lanka cancelled.
The Medical Council did not reply my accusations. They still have a chance to clear their name but the evidence I have against them is insurmountable. So what protection can the public expect.
L. JAYASOORIYA, Via E-mail.
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