By Rathindra Kuruwita
About 2,000 doctors had left the country during the past two years, All Ceylon Medical Officers’ Association (ACMOA) General Secretary Dr. Jayantha Bandara said on Wednesday (16). Now about 5,000 more doctors were planning to leave the country, Dr. Bandara said.
“There are many reasons why professionals are leaving the country. Instead of addressing the concerns of doctors, the government is threatening to blacklist them and arrest them at the airport,” he said.
Dr. Bandara added that most professionals were worried about their future. “They are also troubled by high taxes and low pay,” he said.
“Most doctors are now compelled to do 24-hour shifts. We are only paid for 10 hours. There are many other factors that drive them away. There is a severe shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, and most healthcare staff spend time looking for medicines for patients.”
Dr. Bandara said all doctors unions were unhappy about the government’s decision to take legal action against medical professionals who left the country without the approval of the Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella.
Secretary to the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) Dr. Haritha Aluthge said that the Secretary to the Ministry of Health had issued a circular stating that they will not approve leave for medical specialists, if there were only a limited number of them available in Sri Lanka. They included anaesthetists, he said.
“These unilateral actions will only make people angry. If people want to, they can leave without applying for leave and that is already happening,” he said.
Recently, the only specialist anaesthetist at the Hambantota Hospital left the country without informing the relevant officials.