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Government Gazette

Healing hearts

Ven. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera, one of the country’s most erudite Bhikkus, the other day made a very pertinent observation with regard to our doctors.

Addressing a function to distribute funds for needy patients to undergo surgery the scholar monk noted that there were a large number of “waiting lists” today because some doctors do not have hearts.

The Ven. Thera may have been making a commonly used phrase to describe a callous attitude but his observation no doubt would have had a ready resonance with a large mass of our citizens who had to undergo ordeals at Government hospitals.

What the Ven. Thera implied was that doctors who are paid by the State to give preference to ordinary patients are otherwise engaged in private practise defeating the whole concept of the country’s free health system.

Barring a few conscientious practitioners most Government doctors today only make a casual examination of their patients in order to rush for their private consultations. It is no secret today that the lure of private practice has caused standards in Government hospitals to suffer and by extension the patient.

Some medicos have even been nabbed engaged in private practice during official duty hours by the Health Ministry’s Flying Squad. It is no secret that a majority of doctors mark their presence at Government hospitals for appearance’s sake and then rush for their lucrative channel practises.

The outcome of this is declining standards at State Hospitals is the lengthening of the “Waiting List” for poor patients due to undergo surgery and/or important tests.

The Government has begun a programme to upgrade all rural hospitals. This programme must be expedited so that poor rural patients do not have to trudge to the nearest big city or even to Colombo for better medical facilities. These hospitals should be provided with competent doctors and more advanced diagnostic/surgical equipment.

It is also essential to regulate the mushrooming private medical institutions, which usually charge exorbitant rates from patients for even simple diagnostic procedures. The quality of manpower, including nursing staff, at some of the private sector hospitals and nursing homes also leaves a lot to be desired.

Inherent also in what the Ven. Thera said is that etiquette, code of ethics and professional rectitude associated with the medical profession is a thing of the past sacrificed on the alter of mammon. Time was when the doctors were held in awe and reverence as a life saving God among the common masses.

But today our medicos are being lumped with the profiteers and swindlers associated with big business and enterprise and have more or less lost their esteem in the public eye.

In this scenario it is worthwhile for the authorities to take cognisance of the whole concept of the free health system and of the huge health budget annually disbursed to upgrade the public health sector and consider a through overhaul of the current system so that the ordinary public will not be left in the lurch through callous negligence.

We say this because the poor patient today has to cough up exorbitant sums for their drugs while a debate rages on about the efficacy of generic and branded drugs which has little meaning to the general populace.

True, there are some patented brand name drugs and vaccines which are not available in generic form, but many others are. Moreover, some diseases require specialised treatment.

No doubt the nexus between the international drug companies, the pharmacy mafia and the medical profession have combined to conspire against the poor patients resulting in oppressive costs of drugs and medicines.

To add to his woes most essential drugs are not available in Government Hospitals resulting in the ordinary patients being squeezed on all fronts.

The medical profession which was once hailed as something sacrosanct is today increasingly functioning as just another corporate entity where profit has become the chief motive force putting paid to the ideals of this once noble profession.

Therefore the need of the hour is for a change of heart among those who still who posses a heart so that true meaning is given to the hippocratic oath and our medicos regain their lost prestige and honour among society.

Sri Lanka does have impressive health indices some of which are on par with those of the developed world. True dedication on the part of health workers can take this achievement to an even higher level.
 

Human Rights in Sri Lanka:

Facts vs Fiction

THE Sri Lankan Government recognises that in some areas human rights situation needs to be addressed, and strengthened and it has sought assistance for the same. Unfortunately, such requests have often been ignored, whilst the whole debate has turned into a no holds barred attack in which every possible allegation is flung at the Government and its agencies.

Full Story

Mahinda Chinthana: Path to build family, village and country

The Government’s sole intention is to bring a political solution to this problem as soon as possible. That is why President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed the APRC to obtain the views of all political parties and reach a common consensus on this issue. However, the UNP has a hidden political agenda.

Full Story

A landing like no other

On the morning of March 26, for a group of 11 journalists including this correspondent and two crew members on board a hot air balloon, it was indeed an experience of not only a land like no other from the skies 100 meters above the ground but also proved to be a case of “a landing like no other”.

Full Story

 

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