War wounded hit by absence of doctors

By Sandun A Jayasekera

Medical officers in State hospitals in the North and East, vacating their places of work on the instructions of the GMOA, have crippled medical care services in those hospitals affecting the treatment of war wounded in particular.

The GMOA advised its members to vacate their places of duty last Monday on security grounds following the brutal murder of Dr. S.W.Pathmakumara, Medical Officer of the Vavunaitivu rural hospital in Batticaloa district on Sunday night.

GMOA committee member Dr. Chandika Epitakaduwa said doctors serving in the two provinces are reluctant to report for duty until adequate security was provided to them. The discussions so far held with the authorities had ended in failure, he said.

A?a??A?We had a discussion on Tuesday with Health Ministry officials and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa but could not reach a settlement.

Though Mr. Rajapaksa had given us many promises earlier no promise has so far been honoured. We cannot take his word to provide security to our membership as a firm assurance. We have instructed our members not to report until adequate security is in place for doctors to work without fear,A?a??A? Dr. Epitakaduwa told the Daily Mirror yesterday. War wounded The GMOA will assess the situation tomorrow before taking a decision, he said.

A?a??A?We do not intend to hold further talks with the Defence or Health Ministry officials. We informed the decision of our membership after FridayA?a??a??s discussion,A?a??A? Dr. Epitakaduwa added.

A top official of the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry said that the situation at many State hospitals in the North and East is grave as almost all the war wounded had to be brought to Anuradhapura, Ampara or hospitals in Colombo.

A?a??A?The danger is that seriously wounded soldiers have to be provided first aid or preliminary care before they are airlifted to a major hospital. Almost all the casualties have to be airlifted to the south without casualty management under the circumstances,A?a??A? he said.

Vavuniya District Hospital acting Director, Govri Nandakumar said 12 out of 13 Sinhala medical officers including a surgeon had left the hospital and she is facing difficulty in treating patients, the war wounded in particular.

Kalmunai Base Hospital Director Bhavani Pasupathiraja said all 15 Sinhala doctors have failed to report for duty. A?a??A?I sent some wounded soldiers to Ampara Base Hospital yesterday but it is very difficult to cope with the situation given the unavailability of doctors,A?a??A? he said.

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