Sinhalese doctors quit over 'army vulnerability'

[TamilNet, Sunday, 05 October 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Fourteen Sinhalese doctors along with some of their Muslim colleagues working at the Mannar base hospital vacated their posts on Friday. On their way to Colombo, they reported to Sri Lankan military officials in Vavuniya that they were abandoning their posts due to a major threat from the Liberation Tigers which the Sri Lankan security forces were facing in the Mannar island, where the base hospital is located.

Work at the Mannar hospital has almost come to a halt said an official from the District Secretary's office. The real reason for the vacation of posts by these doctors, according to the official, is anger over what he termed as the "S.B episode".

A crisis in the Sri Lankan medical system developed last week when the GMOA (Government Medical Officers' Association), the powerful trade union in Sri Lanka's government medical sector, threatened to go on strike over the preferential transfer granted to a Sinhalese doctor who had been posted to Mannar.

The doctor is a close relative of Mr. S.B Dissanayake, Minister for Sports in the Sri Lankan government. She was given a position specially created for her in the Ministry of Sports in Colombo. This caused a major protest in medical circles leading to the threat of trade union action by the GMOA.

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The doctor has now been sent to the Batticaloa general hospital. The episode brings into focus a crisis the Sri Lankan army faces in the operational areas of the northeast. It has come to light time and again that the Sri Lankan army's medical corps is quite incapable of handling the rapidly growing number of war wounded in the theatre of operations.

Its creaky logistical system is such that the treatment of the war wounded Sinhala soldiers outside the theatre of operations has become very difficult as the volume of battle field casualties have shot up since July last year.

The Sri Lankan army has tried to find a way out of this problem by beefing up with Sinhala doctors what had for long remained neglected district hospitals in occupied Tamil areas. These hospitals were primarily expected to serve the Sri Lankan army's war wounded.

An appeal was first made to the Sinhala patriots in the government medical profession to volunteer their services in the operational areas of the northeast. This effort failed totally.

Then the SLG introduced compulsory service in civilian hospitals in Tamil areas occupied by the Sri Lankan army. This also has been resisted or evaded in various ways by Sinhala doctors, the latest instance being that of Mr. S.B Dissanayaka's relative.

 

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