By Ranga Jayasuriya:
The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) spokesperson wound up the year on the Sinhala calendar in an ugly style. A day before the ‘Parana Avurudda’, Dr. Nalinda Herath, the GMOA’s General Secretary took cheap advantage of a reported detection of a malaria patient, who happened to be an Indian worker in Sri Lanka and advised the public “to be cautious if Indians are around them”.
His logic is no less skewed than if Indian medics ever thought of telling their countrymen to be cautious of Sri Lankan docs, since some of the latter, of course, a few bad apples indeed, are now accused of being part of a kidney racket. (A counsel appearing on behalf of Indian victims earlier told the Colombo Chief Magistrate that over 1,200 Indians have their kidneys removed in Sri Lanka)!
Dr. Herath’s fear-mongering has no statistical value. He is referring to one out of over 300,000 Indian tourists who visited Sri Lanka last year and a few thousand workers who are living here. You are more likely to be killed in a road accident (eight fatalities are reported daily) or die while being transported in a rickety three-wheeler after a heart stroke. GMOA has also vehemently opposed a pilot project for an ambulance service since Indians are involved. The latest remarks are not just ignorant bunkum, they are racist, xenophobic and bigoted; all the evils that we, as a nation try not to repeat. That an esteemed professional body of the country could stoop to such a low is unprecedented. The only convincing explanation is that morons have hijacked the governance of those organizations, perhaps because saner individuals in the trade are not simply interested in. That is however sad since those organizations are meant to contribute constructively to the national discourse and policy.
matter that it emanates from some quarters of doctors themselves need to be addressed.
The GMOA’s concerns are pecuniary and self-serving. India is two worlds. True that India’s overall health indicators are dismal, yet it also has superior healthcare facilities that cater to its rich Middle class and attracts droves of medical tourists from the West and the Middle East. If the Indian doctors are sub-standard as the GMOA wants us to believe, the rich Sheiks from the Gulf would have second thoughts before seeking treatment in Chennai, Bangalore or Mumbai. Rather, our folks are up in arms, because they want to preserve their monopolistic privileges. It is not about quality, free healthcare or any other holier than thou concoctions. In fact, competition and openness enhance quality.
We should not leave room for another round of xenophobia. (Daily Mirror)