Health non-medical unions call for Health Secretary’s removal 

  • Claim certain officials incompetent, myopic, and working for personal gain  

BY Dinitha Rathnayake 

Health Trade Unions Confederation Convenor Ravi Kumudesh charged that it is not only President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has failed, but that certain incompetent and short-sighted officials who have been occupying significant positions for personal gain, including the Health Ministry Secretary Major General Dr. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, should be sent home.

“Listening to the voice of the people and to force the authorities to take civilised decisions, today [8], an all-state, semi-state, and private sector strike will be launched. As a trade union movement, we are ready for a continuous strike if there is no response. We will not allow the hospital service to collapse. We will support the strike while covering patient care services,” he added. 

Kumudesh noted that Rajapaksa is not being told to go home just because of his political opposition. 

“The majority who voted for him and trusted him, and sat him on the seat of the Presidency, took to the streets and chanted ‘Go home Gota’ not out of anger, but because his programme has proven to be a failure. Meanwhile, ministers like Johnston Fernando are challenging the same people who sent him to Parliament, saying that they will not go, but will stay and face the situation. It is a demonstration that the country has yet to make a civilised decision, and has fallen into the abyss.” 

There are not many essential medicines in the health service today, he noted, adding that this situation will only get worse in the future. 

“Our country’s health service is facing a crisis far worse than that faced by countries such as Ukraine, North Korea and Somalia. Still, there is no Health Secretary who can listen. The Secretary was appointed without any feasibility assessment but due to the personal benevolence adopted in the military. Skilled health care providers were sent home in droves or transferred to other Ministries. Now, there is a Secretary who has no ability to solve any problem and thinks that only what he says is right. Due to the loyalty of the President, the Ministers were afraid to take decisions beyond him and that is how the Ministry came to be controlled,” he alleged.

Dr. Munasinghe could not be contacted for immediate comment as he was at a meeting at the time of contacting him.