Two hundred and thirty two doctors on internship in welfare camps in Vavuniya district have withdrawn from duty providing only emergency services since noon on Thursday, due to a dispute leading to the cancellation of the post-intern appointment list.
All Ceylon Government Medical Officers Association president Dr. Gishantha Dassanayake said the action will leave around 300,000 people in the area at risk.
On Friday a meeting was held but the matter could not be resolved.
“I believe the matter has been resolved. The trade union was not happy with the lists but we are processing the appointments” Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage said.
“After the meeting we were not given anything in writing the appointments will not be cancelled, therefore we are on strike today and will continue to strike tomorrow,” a spokesperson for the striking members told the Sunday Times.
The spokesperson said it is believed the main reason for the cancellation was because of an election within the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) which involved one student of the 232 interns contesting for the post of secretary. The student lost the election with 500 votes against a 1,000 for the winner. However the losing candidate had managed to collect those 500 votes in only two months of canvassing.
The students suspect that the move to cancel the post-intern appointment list was in retaliation for this canvassing. “There were only nine students appointed to the North according to the merit roll. Now 75% of us are to be transferred to remote areas,” the spokesperson said.
The doctors were due to complete their internship on February 2, 2009 but it took five months before they received their appointments. This appointment list was then cancelled on July 1, 2009, leading to the protest.