Letters to the Editor

28th November 1999

On top of the pain, the woes 

Having sustained a fall and damaging a bone (vertebra?) in my lower spine, I was fortunate to have the world renowned neuro-surgeon Dr. Colvin Samarasinghe spend five hours on a successful operation on me. This was to separate the bone that was pressing on a vital nerve and preventing me from walking and causing me excruciating pain and suffering. Now thanks to Dr. Samarasinghe I am able to walk unaided - but with pain in my thigh and calf muscles.

He then ordered a spinal scan. Surprisingly I was given three months to report at 8 am for the scan after this long wait.

On 30.08.99 I went to the National Hospital and inquired where the Scanning Department was. Three different persons including a security officer (in uniform) misdirected me. Why not have boards in all three languages with arrows indicating the location of the Scanning Department? When at last I reached the correct place I was shocked to find that the lift was not working (Out of Order ! Why oh why?) Shouldn't this Government Hospital have a maintenance crew that should systematically go around looking for and immediately repairing service breakdowns?

Anyway, with difficulty I managed to climb the 27 steps. Not the right thing for a recently operated spinal case! Although I had to report at 8 am I was only called up at 9.30 am. After a blood sample was taken, I was asked to come back at 11 am for the scan. As usual I was taken up at 12.15 pm.

First of all I was ordered to empty my bladder - and this when my bladder nearly burst. Downstairs there is only one toilet. Just outside the door to this toilet I was assailed with the most nauseating stench of stale urine. Inside the toilet the stench was overpowering - the commode was of course brimming with stale urine - the floor slippery and stinking.

Now why cannot a conservancy labourer be detailed to flush and clean the floor from time to time ? One must not forget that over fifty patients, both male and female are using this toilet. I think that this is where there is a vast difference between a private hospital and a Government Institution.

When I went into a different room upstairs I had to climb onto the scanning machine. After I was attended to I was given a chit with a number and a date. This was on August 30. I was asked to collect the report on September 4. This reminded me of another ordeal I went through to obtain an MRI at Nawaloka although it was a private hospital. I had to go through this ordeal for 2 1/2 hours but the report was given to me in just over an hour.

Dr. Samarasinghe was nevertheless shocked when I told him about the 2 1/2 hour ordeal I had gone through in a 'coffin' with my head out and the 'coffin' sent through a dark tunnel - for 2 1/2 hours. He said it should not have taken me more than 5 minutes in a modern MRI machine. This is why he is trying to obtain a modern MRI machine with public funds for our National Hospital.

I have written this not with any ulterior motive or to run down a Government Institution for its lack of caring for the well being of the patient, but hoping that the 'shortcomings' in the Scanning Department will meet the eye of our dynamic Minister of Health who should kindly see that our National Hospital should be a model hospital for the whole island.

L.P. Juriansz

Listen to our troubles

We are a batch of medical officers who were posted to the North- East for the first time to do internship in December 97 (Dec. 15, 1997 batch) and again posted to the North - East for the post intern appointment, and will be completing two years on December 15. Though we have repeatedly appealed to the authorities for a transfer outside the North- East, nobody has listened to us. But in the past, doctors who had influence served only a few months and were given stations in Colombo. While we were carrying out our duties, we and our parents underwent many hardships, a few of which we like to list below:

* A young doctor posted to a peripheral hospital in Mannar district developed a massive heart attack and had to undergo emergency "by pass" surgery. The ministry has requested him to report to the station inspite of his condition.

* A young lady doctor who was pregnant delivered a dead baby due to stress. Soon after delivery she was told by the ministry higher authorities to report to her station in the North.

* A doctor's father had a fatal heart attack when he heard the news that his son was posted to the North for the second time.

* Some young doctors are suffering from high blood pressure.

* A pregnant doctor's father developed a "Myocardial Infarction" after his daughter's second appointment to the North.

* Another doctor left government service to look after her 3-month- old baby.

* Young married doctors are separated from their spouses and kids, because of transport difficulties.

These are a few examples of the never ending list of hardships and threats to life we have undergone while carrying out our duties. Even though we have sacrificed our life for the needy, there is nobody to look into the injustices we are facing.


Highly educated but what's the use?

S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike was nicknamed "the sword of discord" by S. J. C. Crowther, a former editor-in-chief of the now defunct Times of Ceylon, for certain palpable reasons. Those familiar with the politics of the late thirties and forties would know that this was a fact.

Mr. Bandaranaike used Buddhism as a tool for his political advancement and ultimately became the Prime Minister of the country.

The Samasamajists led by N. M. Perera, Colvin R. de Silva and Phillip Gunawardena, in turn, used Mr. Bandaranaike as a tool from the time of the August hartal in 1953 to further their political spheres, while at the same time resorting to wild-cat strikes to embarrass and weaken the Bandaranaike government.

None of these politicians, with all their education and political cunning could see beyond their noses the tragedies that would follow in the course of 50 years- 1953 (hartal), 1956, 1958, 1971, 1977, 1983 and to date, as a result of their narrow-minded policies.

Nelson Mandela, with less than half the education received by the above-mentioned local politicians did more good to South Africa than our highly educated politicians.

I hold no brief for the U.N.P. In fact D.S. Senanayake is as much to blame for the present state of affairs as the previously-mentioned politicians for not evolving a pragmatic, equitable language policy as it was his duty as the first Prime Minister to do.

This was perhaps due to his lack of general education and want of proficiency in the three languages.

F. W. Henry

Racing: I am surprised

First of all I am surprised to hear from T. Ratnayake with regard to the General Competition Rules of SLAMS as no one in the local motor racing scene knows of a Ratnayake of Dehiwela. 

How does he know so much about the SLAMS and its rules and how is he able to quote chapter and verse unless he is one of the disillusioned members of the former SLAMS that was dissolved by the Minister of Sports?

Mr. Ratnayake is trying to distort facts. I have never stated that the Interim Committee allowed its President to borrow a member's car and race at Mihintale. The correct version is that the stewards of the meeting allowed the change of vehicles as per SLAMS General Competition Rules.

According to Mr. Ratnayake, SLAMS governing rules do not allow a competitor to drive a SLAMS steward's car. There is no such rule. Ownership of a vehicle is not relevant to this issue. He refers to clause 8.10 (1). There is no such clause in the SLAMS GCRs. Clause 8.10(1) however, refers to the powers of the stewards of the meeting.

According to the SLAMS GCRs a roll cage is mandatory only in open cars and these were the issues I wrote about. 

-Priya Munasinghe, Secretary, 
SLAMS Interim Board


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