Medical Ordinance amendment at a standstill | Sunday Observer

Medical Ordinance amendment at a standstill

The process to amend the Sri Lanka Medical Ordinance which determines the functions of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) has come to a standstill due to Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne failing to appoint a task force to propose and compile the amendments despite receiving Cabinet approval to amend the Ordinance this year.

When contacted Minister Senaratne told the Sunday Observer that he is waiting till the proposed amendments to the Ordinance are presented to him by an independent committee chaired by leading paediatrician Prof. Harendra De Silva.

“The Cabinet approved the decision to amend the Medical Ordinance two weeks ago,” he said adding that once the independent committee headed by Prof. De Silva provides him with the draft proposals it will be presented in Parliament.

However, Prof. De Silva told the Sunday Observer yesterday that he had not been appointed as the head of the independent committee. “I have not been officially informed of such an appointment,” he said.

“After the minister appoints the committee, we will fix a time. In my views the task force should consist of academics and lawyers. I believe we could do it in about six months time” he said.

The SLMC which is responsible to look into the well-being of patients is currently dominated by the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA).

Currently out of the 25 SLMC members, eight are elected by the GMOA and the eight deans of State medical faculties are official appointees.

Sixteen of the SLMC members are trade unionists and the eight deans are members of the Faculty of Medical Teachers Association (FMTA). The president and four members of the SLMC are appointed by the Minister of Health.

The Director General of Health Services is an appointee and a member each is appointed to represent persons registered under section 41of the Ordinance and dentists registered under section 41 of the Ordinance.

A member is selected by the faculty board of the Dental faculty. “The most important task of the SLMC is the well-being of patients. But currently,it is not in a position to perform that duty” Former SLMA Chief Prof. Colvin Gunaratne said.

In his resignation letter to the Minister of Health last year Prof. Gunaratne elaborated issues faced by the SLMC including the Council comprising a majority of medical practitioners which lead to bias decision making.