GMOA remains intransigent and vows harsher strike action no matter the pain inflicted on the sick and poor In defiance of the Court of Appeal’s judgment ordering the Sri Lanka Medical Council to register SAITM medical graduates and thus enable them to practice medicine, the Government Medical Officers Association, the GMOA, began their battle last [...]


What’s next on Dr. Death’s list?


GMOA remains intransigent and vows harsher strike action no matter the pain inflicted on the sick and poor

In defiance of the Court of Appeal’s judgment ordering the Sri Lanka Medical Council to register SAITM medical graduates and thus enable them to practice medicine, the Government Medical Officers Association, the GMOA, began their battle last month in earnest, determined to give no quarter; bent on claiming their pound of flesh, even with the loss of innocent blood.

It was to defend their monopolistic citadel, which securely and comfortably camped a17,000 strong battalion of doctors, against a small invading force of 60 SAITM graduates, armed with nothing more than a court warrant; and to prevent them seeking shelter in the fort on equal terms. The GMOA commandant’s battle orders were clear ‘Take no prisoners and damn civilian casualties.’
With their roost rocked with the Court of Appeal’s 31st January judgment, government doctors took their battle to the streets, not even a mile away from Hulftsdorp’s seat of justice, which enshrines the Appeal Court and from which fount the legal order, granting parity of status to SAITM graduates with those government qualified, had flowed.

With its February 3rd protest march, this GMOA brigade of doctors threw down the gauntlet on the city street, implicitly declaring that, whilst it would raise their stethoscope in salute to a judgment made in their favour, they would revolt at a verdict that went against their vested interest.

THE FACE OF PAIN AND MISERY: GMOA claims ‘the patients are with us”

The march against the court judgment ostensibly held to protest police action against the medical students’ march – when the participants attempted to storm the high security zone of the presidential secretariat – the previous day. It provided the excuse for GMOA doctors to leave their duty free cars at home and take to walking to demonstrate their muscle and might on the street.
It was only a warning blurb of the misery and death seeking missiles they possessed in their medical arsenal, which they were prepared to unleash upon innocent civilians without qualms. It was the drizzle that heralds the storm, the first sinister signal that worse would follow if the judgment of the court were let to hold sway.

And true to their recent satanic form, the GMOA fiends kept their demonic word.
Even though they knew full well:

n that since it was an Appeal Court judgment and a further appeal lay to the Supreme Court, the judicial process had not been exhausted;

n that the Sri Lanka Medical Council had creditably already announced its decision to make recourse to the Supreme Court and canvass its opinion instead of taking to anarchy’s streets;

n that in a democracy, no government in any country, whatever its wishes maybe, can go against the judgment of the courts; and will perforce have to wait the due process to run to its climax;

n that, if the Government strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court’s final opinion on the issue as being contrary to the public interest, the Government would have to seek recourse to the parliamentary process of introducing legislation to alter the verdict;
n that, until then, with hands tied by the courts’ decision, the Government could do naught, even if it so desired, to alter the judicial finding, no matter the protest by rabble rousers on city streets;

the GMOA high command decided to launch strike action nevertheless.
In the manner of terrorists, they summarily dismissed the notion of laying their case upon the altar of public opinion in a reasonable and responsible manner; and publicly disavowed their belief in the righteousness and impartiality of Lanka’s judges to deliver justice by contemptuously displaying their opposition on the streets to a judgment that had not gone in their favour. With the one day march, they had tasted blood and were now ready and drooling to go for the kill.

Even as LTTE chief Prabhakaran with his Eelam Tigers sought to win their perceived rights through the barrel of a gun, so did the GMOA president Padeniya, with his medical cadres, seek to adorn in triumph the outcome of their anti SAITM campaign by holding the strike weapon against the heads of the poor, the sick and the infirm of this country; and, in a sickly, perverse play of Russian Roulette, threaten to blow off their innocent heads if the Government did not, overnight, overrule the Appeal Court’s landmark verdict and deliver SAITM’s decapitated head on a platter to the GMOA door.

It was not to be a nationwide strike. That would serve for afters. Like torture works best when administered dose by dose, the sadistic GMOA took their misery clinic from province to province on a staggered basis for the most potent effect.
Uva got it first. On February 20th, patients in all government hospitals and those coming to attend the monthly clinic and seeking treatment for their ills, found all government hospitals in this second largest province bereft of doctors.

The GMOA’s mobile misery clinic then turned the compass south the following day, the 21st , and brought home to the sickened populace of the southern province, the stark truth that they, due to issues beyond their ken, were to be denied the care, medication and treatment they so earnestly sought and eagerly expected to receive.

Two days later on February 23rd, the people of the Eastern Province and the North Central Province were to receive the same repugnant dose of the same repugnant medicine, brought about by the GMOA’s premeditated act to strike where it hurts most and to play dice with people’s lives.

Four days later, on February 27th, it was the turn of the sick in the North Western Province to be denied the wealth of health, even as it was the sad fate of those afflicted with illness in the Central Province to be denied medical care and treatment. The following day, March 1st, Sabaragamuwa province was hit and its infirm was held hostage denied medical attention.

The following day, it were the people of Jaffna and others in the Northern Province who, having been held as pawns by Tiger terrorists in a bid to win their demands for a utopian Eelam, now were forced to experience a replay at the hands of government doctors who showed the same callousness as the Tigers had done; and ruthlessly held their lives to ransom by denying them the bare medical treatment.

And then the following day, exactly a month after their campaign of protest against the Court of Appeal decision had begun, the GMOA circus of death, arrived in the Western Province to make capital out of cruelty and once again, as they had callously done without an iota of human compassion in the other provinces, staged a repeat and forced the feeble, the weak, the sick, many old and all of them poor, to walk the tight rope, balancing between life and death, without the safety net of medical care.

Perhaps the GMOA considers it a great achievement. A great triumph. Outranking Jules Verne ‘Around the world in 80 days’. Here, in 12 days, they have gone around Lanka, casting the specter of death in all of this country’s 9 provinces. What a record, even for the grim reaper with his scythe. And they had done so bringing in their campaign trail misery, suffering , pain and anguish, possibly even death for that matter, to the very poor people of the entire country who had once sacrificed their own meager mite – and do so even now – through the payment of indirect taxes to finance the education of these ghouls stalking the land as compassionate men of healing.

And after having finished their circuit of nine provinces, the GMOA had the audacity and insensitivity to claim their staggered strike was a success and they had the ‘patients support.’ Only those with a death wish and those yearning for euthanasia, waiting hopefully for a quick exist medical neglect would bring, would have echoed those sentiments.

Now having come full circle what more can they do to overturn the Appeal Court decision? Like the Met Department says ‘more rains due in the coming days,’ raising cheer in a drought ridden land, the GMOA has now announced that more misery is due in the coming weeks ,raising fear in the illness hit hearts of its people.

On March 9th the GMOA Central committee met and decided to step up the campaign and protests on the SAITM issue and “to make a written complaint to the President about three cabinet ministers who are acting in a ‘politically lunatic’ manner on this issue”. They also empowered the Executive Committee to decide on any strong trade union action, if a solution is not provided. This Tuesday the GOMA gave a two week ultimatum to the government to resolve the issue or else they would do their damnedest.
Rich, isn’t it, coming from a profession that prides itself on being the health gods on earth and demands and receives the people’s respect as the receptacles of infallibility and the urns of integrity and blessed with the god given miraculous touch of healing? Frightening, isn’t it, that in their infallibility to make the correct diagnosis and in their awe inspiring reputation to compassionately and unfailingly to treat the sick without an iota of self interest, we blindly repose our lives and our fates in their hands and follow their prescriptions to the letter without question and without a second thought?

Once was a time, not so long ago, when doctors were venerated as the living gods of health on earth and placed upon the topmost pillar of society’s respect and esteem. Sadly no more.
Alas, today, thanks to the present Government Medical Officers Association’s President kicking that noble statue of respect down and his executive committee of fellow doctors ignobly assisting him in bringing down the pedestal itself, a doctor ranks no more in the public eye than a con-dosthara in a private sardine packed bus.

Even that is debatable. At least a conductor has not received a medical college qualification paid for by the public purse nor has he subscribed to any Hippocratic Oath which makes him beholden to the solemn pledge to put the safety, comfort and well being of his passengers above his own welfare. Nor is he supposed to have the education that may otherwise have made his rise above his mercenary mentality. At least, to their credit, it must be said that bus conductors want to fill the bus, not throw the passengers out.
And who are the people affected by the GMOA strike action? Not the government or joint opposition politicians who take flight to Singapore even to get a simple lipid profile check. Not the rich who enter private hospitals where many GMOA doctors do their lucrative moonlighting rounds. Not the mercantile executives who have their medical treatment at private hospitals paid for by their companies’ insurance cover. It is the poor masses of this country who have become the GMOA’s flog horse.

Condemned by their pecuniary plight, they have no option, when condemned by illness, but to seek treatment at government hospitals; and when they arrive there, after a long haul ordeal on public transport, only to find that they are further condemned by a GMOA strike for some cause or the other. It is akin to the proverbial man who has fallen from the tree being gored by the bull.
But not the MPs, not the affluent, not those covered by medical insurance and, yes, not even the masses who for the moment are hale and hearty and whose loved ones are also hale and hearty for the moment, can understand to that exquisite degree the anguish of the poverty ridden, disease struck section of the public when they find no doctor in the house to attend to them. And told to try their luck the following day. But when one is struck down by illness, tomorrow may never come.

Only the man with the wound knows the pain. And only the heartless can deny him the gift of his medical expertise to ease the suffering. It is the quintessence of man’s inhumanity to man, the most extreme form of sadism. But for the GMOA doctors who have vowed to unleash a fresh wave of terror in the poor’s heart if the Government does not yield to their blackmail, such humane feelings of compassion to one’s fellow man do not rise in their stony hearts nor do they serve to prick their conscience.

These GMOA doctors have put at risk the lives of the people in their care in the past and now unabashedly and without qualms and without a single pang of conscience threaten to repeat the cruel exercise. They do so also without reference to the sacred Hippocratic Oath they swore to uphold when they first became doctors, which states among others:

“I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick. I will prevent disease whenever I can but I will always look for a path to a cure for all diseases. I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.”
Today there is a severe dearth of doctors in the country and recent statistics show that there is only one doctor to every 1350 Lankans. According to health ministry officials, about 1,200 doctors graduate annually from medical schools in Sri Lanka and another 300-350 return to Sri Lanka with foreign medical degrees.

Most of the students of SAITM attend this private medical college not because they are dumb clucks who failed to pass the A ‘Levels with the necessary high marks needed to enter the Government Medical College. Indeed they were denied entry to the medical College only due to the cut off marks system that differs from province to province, from district to district. For instance a student from Moneragala can gain entry with a low score but a student from Colombo, even if he has got more than double the marks, may fail to make good, only because the quota of the student intake from the capital had been filled.

What is a student from Colombo denied entry by one mark due to the quota system to do in those circumstances? If his or her parents had enough money to send them to a foreign medical college, well and good for them, for SLMC accepts those degrees without question, even though those in the Medical Council or the GMOA had never done special tours of inspection and satisfied themselves that the standard at those foreign colleges of medicine were of the same calibre and ranked equal to Lanka’s Medical College.

For those outcast students the next alternative is to seek admission to SAITM at a more affordable amount. And these bright students sought admission to SAITM especially because the previous Government stamped its formal seal of approval at the start and reconfirmed its legitimacy as an acceptable private medical college when the former President awarded scholarships to 10 deserving students to follow the MBBS degree course thereat with the obvious intention to see them qualify as Medical doctors.
So the following question must be asked:

WHY, when the former Government of Lanka had extended its patronage to set up SAITM in 2009 and allowed it to be legally established:

WHY, when the former president had recognized its credentials and considered it worthy enough in 2013 to award scholarships to 10 students to embark upon their medical studies at the said institution to become future doctors of this country:
WHY, when the Court of Appeal had granted SAITM’s qualified students the right to apply for registration at the Medical Council and ordered the Medical Council to accept it:

WHY, when the Medical Council recognizes foreign medical degrees from Russia and other countries and accepts registrations of those who are foreign qualified without question:

WHY, when there is a severe dearth of doctors in the country with only one doctor to 1350 Lankans:

WHY, when the Medical College can only churn out no more than 1250 new doctors per year:

WHY, the GMOA considers SAITM’s contribution of 100 new doctors per year not as a welcome blessing to provide a better service to ailing Lanka’s medical needs but views SAITM’s small task force of a 100 doctors yearly – as against the Medical College annual batch of 1250 doctors – as a threat to their monopolistic fortress:

AND WHY, given the above, the GMOA holds that their repeated marathon strikes which only place at risk the lives of the nation’s poor, can in anyway be justified?

There are approximately 17,000 doctors in this country today. From a Buddhist perspective, they have earned great merit in some past births to be rewarded in this birth with the opportunity to acquire a free medical qualification and become doctors. That previous merit has not only given them divine status in the eyes of the public but also provided them with the opportunity to amass an Ali Baba treasure cave of even more merit which will stand them in good stead in their future births in samsaric life.

Why squander such rewards earned in previous lives, why become the spendthrifts of the merit thus earned which has placed them in this present birth on the Sri Pada peak of public love, respect and esteem?

To all these 17, 000 doctors, the SUNDAY PUNCH makes a special appeal: Whatever the issue maybe with SAITM, please do not place the innocent poor who come to government hospitals seeking your medical succor to overcome their pain and suffering. Merit amassed in past births has blessed your hands with the gift to heal. Do not deny those who seek it. For even as past actions have blessed you today, your present karmic actions might condemn you to an ungodly state of existence here and now in this life or in the next.

Two different worlds but, yet, same scene
Poor Mr. Donald Trump, President of America. He came to power promising the people he will crackdown on immigrants coming from ISIS infected countries and thus minimise the terror threat in the States.

TRUMP: Attacked for keeping poll promises

SIRISENA: Attacked for not keeping poll promises

Within a week of coming to power, he issued a special executive order banning people in seven nations from entering the United States to give effect to his pre-election promise. What happened? A federal judge in a Seattle courtroom in the US halted Trump’s ban. And the establishment, the politician and the media put Trump in the pillory and, while accepting that he was only trying to fulfil his pre-presidential poll pledges to the nation, hurled ridicule and scorn at him.

He had to back down and last week issued a second executive order amending the flaws that the federal judge had found in the original order. This Thursday a Hawaii Federal Court Judge blocked that too. He put a temporary ban to stop it taking effect. Later a Maryland federal judge followed suit and put paid to Trump’s second executive order.

Once more the establishment, the courts and the media have gunned him down.
And all because the man tried too hard to keep his promise to the people who voted for him. But Trump on Thursday vowed to fight to keep his promise to the nation.
That the scene in the States. Now let’s turn the focus to the scene in Lanka.

Poor Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka. He came to power promising the people he will crackdown on the past Rajapaksa regime’s corruption and vowing to minimise the corruption plague in the future under his Yahapalana Government.
Though the effort to keep the promise started with a bang, nothing tangible has come of it up to now. Except of course one of the main generals, the former Bribery chief, in the fight against corruption battle was moved to resign from her post last year after the President warned in public that arrests of high profile people should only be done after informing him.

And now the public who voted for him in the expectation that he will keep his pre-presidential poll pledges and the media have put him in the pillory and hurl scorn for the delays in keeping his promises to the nation.

And the moral of the story: Don’t make promises. Whether you keep them or not, you’ll still be damned.

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