Doctors sent abroad for higher training, mainly in the fields of psychiatry, pathology and radiology, hardly return to Sri Lanka to serve their motherland, Minister of Healthcare and Nutrition Nimal Siripala de Silva told the annual Health Ministers` Forum in Geneva Switzerland last week.
He said that more than 1,000 doctors are trained in the country`s medical colleges every year and colossal sums of money are invested on
their education, which is free, unlike in many developed and under developed countries, where medical education is not free.
De Silva said in order to arrest this situation, he got Cabinet approval to compel doctors going abroad, for higher training, to enter into an enhanced bond with the government, but trade unions vehemently objected to this move and this decision could not be implemented.
Since Sri Lanka is committed to democracy and restrictions on the migration of professionals could not be imposed, he suggested that developed countries could help developing countries by paying the cost of training of the health personnel to the country which trained them.
He also requested the Commonwealth Secretariat to intervene and sort out the hardship caused to the Sri Lankan medical post graduates as a result of a policy decision taken by the UK government insisting on work permits as a pre-condition for obtaining visas for such professional to enter into UK. He suggested a special fixed term training visa which is not extendable after the fixed training given to medical post graduate trainees.
In his key note address Dr. Timothy Evans, Assistant Director General WHO, said the deficit of health workers in the Commonwealth is around 4.1 million and urged respective countries to formulate a vibrant national programme to train more health workers.