GMOA’s stand questioned | Sunday Observer

GMOA’s stand questioned

The protest of the powerful Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) at the beginning of 1990 Suwaseriya Ambulance service, (which had served 91,547 patients as of August last year) is still fresh in the minds of the people. The GMOA made a statement that they would not accept patients brought to hospitals by these ambulances. This showed the true colours of the GMOA and clearly showed the rotten side of the white coated gentry.

Against this background, an alternative trade union to Government doctors, the Government Medical Officers Forum (GMOF) alleged at a press conference last week that the GMOA is working towards some parliamentary seats abandoning their primary objective, the welfare of the doctors.

“Committee members of the GMOA are looking for a political career for themselves. By commenting on topics such as ETCA, Singapore pact and the 20th Amendment, the GMOA is trying to forge recognition for themselves within a popular opposition political party. The best example is that during the two months of the government with Mahinda Rajapaksa as the PM, the GMOA asked him for National List MP posts for GMOA members” the President of the GMOF, Dr. Rukshan Bellana, told the Sunday Observer. The President of the GMOA, Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya was an attendee at several events where former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa a political asperant participated.

Padeniya was a frontline participant at Gota’s Viyath Maga seminar series, which was organised to raise his image as the next Presidential candidate from the Rajapaksa camp.

Demands

As told by Dr. Bellana, during the last four years, the GMOA has not made any demands relevant to matters concerning the doctors, such as increasing allowances and salaries, schools for doctors’ children and other related matters.

“Therefore, we thought of an alternative body to discuss professional welfare issues of doctors. We are thoroughly disgusted that the GMOA is a politically motivated association”, said Bellana.

The GMOA was set up in 1926 as the Government Medical Officers’ Association (Central Province), with the purpose of safeguarding the rights and privileges of its members.

A year later it was renamed and expanded as the Government Medical Officers’ Association of Ceylon. On July 18,1949, the GMOA was first registered as a trade union, being assigned No. 291 under the Registration of Trade Union Ordinance.

“There are 21,000 doctors in the country. But all of them are not happy with the GMOA. Only 25 per cent of them vote at GMOA elections. Others do not even care about GMOA activities,” said Bellana.

Fees

“When doctors enter government service, the GMOA give them an application form which provides for the deduction of membership fees automatically from the salary of doctors. As it is a 90 year old organisation they have the privilege of doing so”.

Dr. Bellana said that while the GMOA can function as a lobbying group, they cannot be a threat to the public.

When the issues of ETCA and Singapore pacts emerged the GMOA linked its relevance to them on the issue of the possible impact on the medical profession. “If you go on a road which is poorly constructed you can link that also to the health sector.

If the agriculture sector is not performing well, you can link it to the health sector. So it is with the engineering sector. But if you take the constitution of the GMOA, the priority is on the basic fundamentals of doctors’ welfare and privileges. There are people to talk about those matters. The GMOA says that if this pact is signed they will strike. Against whom are they striking? Obviously against the people!” he added.

Politicisation

A doctor who used to be an active member of the GMOA in the past, said that politicisation of the GMOA has led to a split in the GMOA. “In fact, the GMOA was the most powerful trade association of South Asia, some time ago.

However, due to their change of path, separate wings were formed such as the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS), GMOF and All Ceylon Government Medical Officers’ Association (ACGMOA). Earlier, specialists glamourised the GMOA, but it doesn’t have that glamour anymore. We see the deterioration of the GMOA just by hearing the way they speak at a press conference” he said.

At the resurrection of the AMS which was originally formed in 2007, and re-born in 2015, its media spokesman Consultant Anaesthetist ,Dr. Asoka Gunawardena, had reportedly said that ignorance of the burning issues of consultants was the main reason to resurrect the AMS.

As our source said, all members of the GMOA are charged Rs. 4,000 annually which exceeds 60 million rupees per year. He said that there is no transparency about this money collected by the GMOA. It is reportedly said that more than 20 ex- exco members of the GMOA met the Health Minister and expressed their displeasure about the activities of the GMOA. If anyone thinks that the GMOA is functioning with the fullest support of its members they are mistaken. Since 2011, that is during the Presidency of Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya, the GMOA has ousted more than 400 members who opposed the trade union according to our source.

Action

Meanwhile, at a press conference last week, Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne said it is time to take some action against the GMOA.

At the time the shortlived government of Mahinda Rajapaksa took power, the GMOA wrote to all foreign embassies requesting that they accept the new government.

The GMOA does nothing but politics. They wanted to show that the doctors of the country were backing that government. But the Ambassadors to Sri Lanka are well aware about the GMOA. Minister Senaratne said , “We have been waiting. Now it is time for us to take action.

Minister Senaratne said that the GMOA had lied at the Presidential Commission on the Health Ministry’s activties within the last four years. However, President Maithripala Sirisena who is in the Philippines has not responded to this as yet.

Comments