The main trade union of Government doctors is warning of a major strike if the authorities do not arrest those responsible for the harm done to the Galaha Hospital. Secretary of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), Dr. Haritha Aluthge, addressing the media yesterday (31), said that the Union was only prepared to give the Police, time until 3 September to execute the law against all those responsible for the attack on the Hospital.
Aluthge threatened that over 3,000 doctors in the Central Province would go on strike on 4 September if the Police don’t nab the culprits.
On Tuesday a mob surrounded the rural Galaha Hospital after a toddler died after being admitted to the understaffed medical facility. The crowd alleged that doctors were indifferent and negligent.
The GMOA, offering its version of events, alleged that there was only one MBBS qualified doctor at the hospital and he had been attending to several critically injured accident victims when the toddler was brought there.
Dr. Aluthge urged the Ministry of Health to immediately publicize the technical findings of the probe carried out on the incident.
He said that the Hospital had only one Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) qualified doctor and a Registered Medical Officer.
Aluthge said the GMOA branch had reported that the toddler had been brought with an epileptic fit, due to a high fever, where prompt attention was provided, However, there were two accident victims in critical condition who were in need of immediate medical aid, he said. After the doctor was satisfied that the child’s condition was stable, he had left his young patient under the watchful eye of his other staff members and attended to the two accident victims.
The child had then developed breathing issues due to the administration of a medicine given to control the epileptic fit, he said. Seeing the need to transfer the toddler, the doctor had taken steps call an ambulance from another hospital, as the ambulance owned by the Galaha Divisional Hospital had been transferring the accident victims to the Kandy Hospital.
But the child’s parents and certain people had forcibly removed the child under medical attention and attempted to take him in a three-wheeler, which resulted in the child’s death,” he claimed.
However, although the Galaha Divisional Hospital is the only hospital for the area, it will stay closed until such time that the Minister of Health and the Provincial authorities can ensure the safety of the doctors and that such an incident would not recur, he explained.
He also threatened that if Provincial Health authorities attempt to deploy any doctor to the hospital as per the instructions of Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, the GMOA doctors too are prepared to retaliate by going on an indefinite strike without further notice.
GMOA Assistant Secretary, Dr. Naveen Zoysa claimed that the Minister had no right to call for the removal of the doctor in question. His service at the Galaha Hospital has been approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) and therefore, the Minister does not have the right to call for his removal.
He said that civil societies were also conferring with the GMOA to lodge a complaint with the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) in view of the toddler’s unnecessary death due to the hasty action of the child’s parents and an unruly crowd.
Taking into consideration the inadequate resources both human and infrastructural, the GMOA said that it is willing to withdraw its membership. It would be better than risking the lives of medical officers who are forced to serve in such underprivileged stations, Dr. Zoysa added.