By Rathindra Kuruwita
Decisions in the health sector, since COVID-19, are being taken by politicians and senior bureaucrats that are allied with these politicians, Dr. Chamal Sanjeewa, Chairman of the Professional Forum of Physicians on Medical and Civil Rights, said at a forum in Colombo on Thursday (03).
Preventing unions and other whistleblowers from revealing the truth regarding the health sector is akin to encouraging murder, he said.
“The Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) had recommended action be taken on several of the most senior officials in the Health Ministry. However, they are the people who decide on the most important things, including
drugs. How can we solve the current crisis in health with these politicians and these officials?” he asked.Dr. Sanjeewa said that now there is a general consensus that malnutrition in the country is affecting over 50 percent of the people.
“Last year, following a survey in some villages in Hambantota, I said the malnutrition levels are between 30 and 50 percent. I was suspended from duty and I still remain suspended. I have not asked for salary hikes or for allowances. I spoke for the people,” an emotional Dr. Sanjeewa said.
Dr. Sanjeewa, in September 2022, said that 80 percent of children in a village in Suriyawewa were not getting the nutrition they require and about 50 percent of them are malnourished.
He that they conducted a research in Walsapugala, Suriyawewa, and that the area had a substantial population. Given that the particular village was a good representation of the the Hambantota District, one could assume that a similar situation prevails in all districts, he said.
On 01 November 2022, the Ministry of Health suspended Dr. Sanjeewa over the comments. The Ministry said the allegations were baseless and caused embarrassment to health officials.Dr. Sanjeewa has filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking an order declaring his suspension is against the law and therefore void.