News

Health sector strike today against GMOA 

  • GMOA’s relatives vaccinated, health workers’ relatives excluded 

  • Nurses, PHIs, lab techs, paramedics and others to join fight 

  • GMOA defends request as it is important

By Dinitha Rathnayake 

 

Health sector trade unions are preparing to go on strike today (25) to protest the decision by the Ministry of Health to vaccinate the relatives of the members of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), ignoring other health sector workers’ relatives, who the trade unions claimed face the same risk in the fight against Covid-19.

Speaking to The Morning, the President of the Government Medical Laboratory Technologists Association Ravi Kumudesh said that excluding the GMOA, all health unions would join the strike including the Joint Council of Nursing, Professions Supplementary to Medicine (PSMs), Paramedic Services Unions, the Government Nursing Officers Association, management assistants and assistants, and the Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) Union of Sri Lanka. 

“The immediate family members of all frontline workers in the health sector should be vaccinated, not only the family members of doctors. Yesterday (24), the family members of doctors in the Western Province were vaccinated. What about the other frontline health workers’ families who were not vaccinated? There are frontliners who are directly involved with Covid-19 patients. What about their families?”

According to Kumudesh, there are around 130,000 health workers in this sector and noted that every worker needs to be treated in the same manner.

“Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi asked us to participate in a meeting yesterday to talk about our Union action but we rejected her request. Everyone should be treated equally and priority should be given to those who work with Covid-19 patients including drivers and PHIs”.

Meanwhile, speaking to The Morning, Secretary to the PHIs Union M. Balasooriya said that it is unfair to administer the vaccine only to the immediate family members of doctors.

“It is important to vaccinate the family members of other officials such as nurses, paramedics, junior staff members and all other members linked to the health sector if the relatives of GMOA Members are vaccinated. There are health workers who work as frontliners more than doctors. For example, we are involved with Covid-19 patients more directly than the doctors. What about our family members? Aren’t they at risk just as those in other families? Is it fair to administer the vaccine only to the family members of doctors? We have decided to withdraw from all services at these Medical Officer of Health offices in a bid to show our protest. An explanation should be given regarding the manner in which the Covid-19 vaccine is given to the health services personnel on duty at the ground level. We are of the opinion that priority should be given to vaccinate all the professionals who are directly exposed in the fight against Covid-19 rather than vaccinating the relatives of medical officers only.”

However, speaking to The Morning, GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Naveen De Soyza said that the vaccine was administered yesterday not only for the family members of doctors but for those of nurses as well.

“We have requested this vaccination from the Ministry of Health since March as there are around 50,000 immediate family members of those in the health sector. I don’t see any fault with our request as it is important to get the vaccine.” 

The Deputy Director General of Public Health Services Dr. Hemantha Herath said that it was reported that the vaccine was administered yesterday to the family members of doctors. 

“However, the Ministry of Health cannot declare any decision at the moment regarding the vaccine administration as I have requested a report regarding this.” 

 

Health sector strike today against GMOA