Home » A well thought out decision

A well thought out decision

by malinga
September 15, 2023 1:05 am 0 comment

The decision by the Health Ministry to re-employ retired doctors in State hospitals indeed is a welcome step, which, no doubt, would at least to some degree provide an answer to the present crisis in the health sector caused by the mass migration of doctors. According to media reports quoting Health Ministry Secretary Janaka Sri Chandraguptha the recalled retired doctors who will be employed on contract basis will be granted all the privileges they were enjoying when they were in service. The decision to recall retired doctors also has an additional advantage. Interns who are expected to fill the vacancies of the migrated doctors by no means would fall into the category of specialists. It would take them years to reach that status. On the other hand, the retired doctors with years of experience behind them would ideally fit the bill. Hence this could be the answer for the loss of a large number of specialist doctors, especially in rural hospitals.
Earlier, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella met all health sector Trade Unions to find a solution to the problems affecting the State hospitals due to the migration of doctors and other health professionals. The Minister discussed all issues confronting the doctors and health sector professionals with a view to finding solutions to their problems through which he hoped to retain the services of doctors and specialists in this country. However, the problem seemed to have got aggravated with the only anaesthetist in the Embilipitiya District Hospital the latest to leave adding to the mass exodus of health professionals. Hence, the decision to re-employ retired doctors with all perks and privileges intact is indeed a welcome move, particularly from the point of the view of the plight of the poor patients.
However, the Ministry will have to recall almost all retired doctors to fill in the breach since there are reports that some 2000 doctors had left the country during the past two years with still more expected to leave in the coming days.
In this context, the Minister should at least strive to keep back the remaining doctors by offering them an acceptable solution to their issues lest the health service suffers a complete collapse.
The situation is further complicated given a recent revelation by the GMOA that the country is short of 4,000 doctors. The number of interns under training too has dropped drastically which will all have to be offset by the retired medicos which certainly would not be an easy prospect.
Perhaps the GMOA itself should be partly held responsible for the dearth of doctors in the country. Its campaign against the SAITM Campus and the opposition to the absorption of foreign-qualified medical students into the State health sector too have contributed to the doctor shortage.
But why didn’t the Health Ministry monitor the doctor exodus and arrest the trend at the very outset? What was it doing until the doctors were leaving the country during the past eight months? As the Minister opined, nothing can prevent doctors or other professionals from going abroad to better their lot. However, the Ministry ought to have taken note of the growing departure of our medical professionals and persuaded them to remain, perhaps by the offer of additional incentives or perks.
After all, Government doctors are products of the free education system, and their first duty lies towards the taxpayers who bore the cost of their education. Hence, if push comes to shove the Government even at this juncture should consider taking drastic measures to stem the alarming tide. It should consider extracting a legally binding undertaking from all Government doctors to serve for a specific period in the country, first, before considering moving out.
The Government certainly should not lose time in tackling the problem of the dwindling number of doctors in the country, who are increasingly being compelled to seek greener pastures due to the severe economic crisis in the country. If the situation worsens, not only doctors but other professionals too are bound to leave the country in droves. And once they have departed it is foolhardy to imagine that they can be brought back.
The departed doctors could be lost to the country forever, and the vicious cycle is bound to continue and all the doctors we produce under the free education system will continue to leave until the country is starved of medical professionals to treat the poor.
Meanwhile, doctors are a frustrated lot – their pleas for the replenishment of fast-diminishing vital medicines in Government hospitals going unheeded.
It is a fact that certain hospitals have no money even to clear their waste piles. With most vital medicines and drugs unavailable in Government hospitals, poor patients are forced to purchase these from private pharmacies. Even with the recent price reduction in drugs, the poor still cannot afford to pay even the reduced price which leaves a big question mark as to the country’s free healthcare service.
Urgent steps should be taken to identify vulnerable sections and arrangements have to be made to provide them with medicines at subsidized cost. Pharmacy owners should be persuaded to reduce their prices so that the poor could afford to buy their drugs and medicines without undue pressure.
The private sector too should chip in to help out in this desperate situation including private banks which regularly boast of record profits and bumper dividends to shareholders.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Sri Lanka’s most Trusted and Innovative media services provider


@2023 – All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed by Lakehouse IT

Hutch Hutch