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GMOA threatens TU action over alleged health privatisation moves

9 months ago

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  • Cites apathy towards resolving drug shortage, allocating funds, and appointing a Health Minister, alongside attempts to slash wages 
BY Buddhika Samaraweera Claiming that political authorities are making a concerted effort to privatise the free health service in a systematic manner by plunging the health service further into crisis, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has stated that they would not hesitate to resort to severe trade union (TU) action to prevent such a move. Speaking at a media briefing held on Tuesday (17), GMOA General Secretary Dr. Senal Fernando said: “It is observed that political authorities are making efforts to privatise the free health service in a systematic manner, pushing the health service into crisis. The apathetic attitude towards finding a solution to the pharmaceutical drug shortage, allocating funds required for the health service, and appointing a Health Minister, and the attempts to slash the wages of health workers show that the authorities are setting the stage for the privatisation of the free health service.” He further claimed that despite Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Central Bank Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe having stated that in the current crisis situation, the salaries of public servants would be paid without any cuts, the Chief Financial Officers of the Finance and Health Ministries and some other officials are unjustly working to curtail health workers’ salaries. Dr. Fernando added that such efforts show that in the absence of a Health Minister, a programme is being implemented to further harass and frustrate health workers, thereby creating an unnecessary crisis and unrest within the health sector. “During certain situations such as the war, pandemics including Covid-19, curfews imposed due to various conflicts, as well as in the face of the prevailing economic crisis, and in the event of any national disaster, all health workers continue to maintain the highest quality and equity of free health care. We have worked tirelessly to ensure maximum health care in the face of the current economic and political crisis, as well as the current shortage of medicines and equipment,” he said. Speaking further, he said that the entire political establishment, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Premier, should understand that in the face of the current economic crisis, people would have to wait in queues to get fuel and essential items, but cannot wait in such queues when there is a need for emergency treatment. He added that although they continue to point out the need to immediately address the lack of funds needed to maintain the health service, it did not appear that the relevant authorities are paying attention to it. “All branches of the GMOA, which are paying close attention to this matter, will hold emergency branch meetings and take necessary decisions in this regard. We will not hesitate to take any kind of strong trade union action to ensure the right to life of the people through the protection of the free health service,” said Dr. Fernando.  

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