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A pregnant woman and her son wait in a queue to buy kerosene at a fuel station, amid the country's economic crisis in Colombo. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
A pregnant woman and her son wait in a queue to buy kerosene at a fuel station, amid the country's economic crisis in Colombo. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Sri Lankan govt medical officers warn of trade union action over pay cuts, drugs shortage

ANI | Updated: May 19, 2022 15:00 IST


By Ashoke Raj
Colombo [Sri Lanka], May 19 (ANI): Health services may be disrupted after fuel and gas shortages in Sri Lanka, said the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) of the country if the salaries of health workers are cut during this severe crisis.
The association is cautioning that they will resort to serious trade union action without any prior notice. Trade union action against privatisation of free health care and cut in salaries of health workers may take effect from May 25 and even services may be disrupted.
"Health sector is an important sector which we can't ignore but at this moment, we are facing the economic and political turmoil. The current situation is threatening and leading to a crisis which is affecting patients everywhere. The decision was taken just not for the salary but for all related issues," Dr Samantha Ananda, Spokesperson of GMOA told ANI.
Not only the issue of salary but there is also an acute shortage of vital and essential medicines in most of the hospitals in Sri Lanka. This dearth of essential medicines may lead to an increase in the mortality rate if the demand is not met.
"We have a shortage of medicines and at the same time, we have major issues in Sri Lanka. For the smooth running of the hospitals... We appeal to the authority and the government to talk to all the stakeholders and come to the conclusion otherwise the patients will be burdened, and later, the government will have to face the consequences," Dr Samantha Ananda told ANI.
"We have a fuel crisis. We have a domestic gas shortage and other essentials are in shortage. Despite this, doctors give priority to health services," Dr Samantha added.
The crisis-marred island nation is facing an acute shortage of essential medicines amid the ongoing crisis, with many hospitals admitting critical patients and running short of medicines for heart attack, stroke and emergency patients, according to GMOA.

"We have a shortage of eleven vital drugs which save the life of people with the immediate emergencies, on another hand, nearly 200 essential drugs are more shortage that has to be addressed.. we need Human Resources that we don't ignore...," Dr Samantha Anand told ANI.
The Government Medical Officers Association, with a strength of about 24,000, has written a letter to the Sri Lankan Health Ministry urging them to fulfil their demand immediately.
"We are government doctors of Sri Lanka which is strongest professional doctors association with around 24,000 members in the country, we are not demanding the issues of salaries cuts but also urging to provide medicines for saving the life of patients," GMOA spokesperson told ANI.
GMOA urges India and World Health Organisation (WHO) to intervene immediately with regard to supplying medicines to the island country amid the crisis. As per GMOA medicines for ICUs and emergency, patients reported huge shortages.
"When health crisis occurs in any country, I think the world has to get together and as a neighbouring country, India is also looking at the problem in that way," GMOA said.
"Strike is our last option always, so negotiation has to start and we have requested a discussion with the certain authorities and hope to get the answer properly and positively," Dr Samantha Ananda, GMOA Spokesperson told ANI.
Medical officials and doctors in Sri Lanka have blamed the political system for the current crisis.
"The current regimes are creating a backdrop for the breakdown of the health system by discouraging drug workers, cutting funding to maintain the health service and unjustly slashing the salaries of all health staff, discouraging health workers," GMOA told ANI.
Sri Lanka has three levels of hospitals, treasury, secondary and primary hospitals and all are currently facing an acute shortage of medicine. Sri Lanka is short of Rabies, ARV medicines, Heart attack, stroke medicines and GTN medicines. (ANI)

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