by Nirmala Kannangara
Brain drain in the country’s health sector was largely due to the government’s failure to broaden the existing public sector salary ratio, alleged the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA).
“It was the much controversial 2006/6 salary circular that narrowed the salary ratio of the lowest state sector worker and the highest state sector worker. Although it was 1: 12 in 1970s, the 2006/6 Tissa Devendra Salary Commission brought it down to 1: 4 which is yet to be revised although many requests and representations have been made to the Health Ministry and the Salaries Commission,” Committee Member GMOA Dr. Chandika Epitakaduwa told The Sunday Leader.
According to Dr. Epitakaduwa, more than 1500 doctors have submitted their applications to the Foreign Placement Coordinating Center (FPCC) at the Health Ministry seeking foreign employments for greener pasture.
“There are some 15,000 doctors serving in government hospitals and if the salaries of consultants and other doctors are not increased, the 1500 doctors that have already submitted their applications to the FPCC would leave the country very soon. In the meantime the doctors who work in peripheral areas would refuse to work in remote areas and the helpless, innocent patients would have to suffer but not the affluent,” claimed Dr. Epitakaduwa.
According to Dr. Epitakaduwa, Sri Lankan qualified doctors have a good demand in the United Kingdom (UK), Singapore, Libya and Brunei.
“We have a good demand especially from the UK and also from Singapore, Libya and Brunei. The more the government fails to increase the salaries of the government doctors the more they leave the country or take into private practice strengthening the private health sector in the country,” Dr. Epitakaduwa said.