Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, would spin in his grave if he knew about the conduct of some physicians in this blessed land. Yesterday, we reported that a specialist doctor in Ratnapura had allegedly given a trainee nurse an injection by way of punishment for a mistake she had made. The nurse is said to have been warded following that jab of wrath. The nurses unions are on the warpath demanding stern against the doctor. The doctor is reported to have told the police that he only demonstrated to the trainee nurse how an injection should be given. What a way to conduct a demonstration! The incident has yet to be probed fully and we don t intend to subject the doctor concerned to a media trial. But, it is surprising that doctors trade unions and professional associations which go into the attack mode at the drop of a hat over issues concerning their rights and privileges have not been jolted into action on this score.
They acted like the proverbial monkeys refusing to see, speak and hear when a doctor was arrested at the Negombo hospital, where a garment factory girl was raped, killed and plunged out of the seventh floor of a building recently. The nursing staff of the hospital shamelessly collaborated with doctors in a bid to cover up the killing. But for a courageous janitor who came forward to give evidence against the doctor a verdict of suicide would have been returned. The witness L. M. Beatrice is her name became a victim of a witch-hunt that nurses and doctors launched together. The private firm she worked for yielded to pressure from some doctors to discontinue her service. Later she was reinstated after we exposed the plot hatched against her and the Labour Department intervened on her behalf.
Beatrice, who stood up to pressure from the high and mighty in the name of justice ought to be honoured. We hope she won t be forgotten when the International Women s Day is celebrated tomorrow. It is not the NGO types living off the fat of the land, as handmaids of sinister foreign powers, who deserve honours on that day but the likes of Beatrice who are the real guardians of women s rights. Beatrice, a woman worth her weight in silver, if not gold, is drawing as little as Rs. 285 a day for her hard work, that too after a continuous service of seven years! Will the women s lib activists take up her case?
Nurses run palindrome intended amok when one of them is affected. But, mum s the word on their part as regards the rights of others, especially patients. Ironically, the nurses who sided with a doctor to hush up the killing of a poor girl have had to take up the cudgels against another doctor for giving one of them a jab against her will. A few weeks after the Negombo incident, nurses locked horns with doctors at the Peradeniya Teaching Hospital over a rest room. They were also set upon by a group of medical students of the Peradeniya University. Nemesis?
The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) has told this newspaper on two occasions, in reply to a question why no action was taken against the doctor involved in the Negombo incident, that it cannot act without a formal complaint! But, how would the medical fraternity have reacted if the fate of that poor garment worker had befallen one of them?
We get the same stock excuse from key state institutions, too. The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) refused to take action against an errant matron of a children s home in Ratnapura, which supplied a rich paedophile with a boy a few months ago. He was arrested in a Kandy hotel together with the child. When we asked the NCPA why it had not removed the matron concerned, for her presence posed a threat to the inmates of that home, we were told that there had been no formal complaint against her! That is court cases and newspaper reports are not sufficient for the NCPA to act to protect children! The Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption, too, cannot initiate its own investigations. Unless someone dares lodge a complaint only a few are desirous of doing so for fear of reprisals crooks will be safe. One may say they are safe anyway, as no sharks have so far been thrown behind bars for bribery or corruption.
So much for watch dogs and guard dogs in this country!
What characterises trade unions as well as professional associations is their preoccupation with action to safeguard their rights and privileges to hell with their responsibilities and the wellbeing of the country!
Teachers resorted to trade union action the other day demanding redress for their grievances such as salary anomalies. But, which teachers union has taken up the issue of the high failure rate in subjects like Science and Mathematics at the GCE O/L examination? Students are being forced to attend the GCE (A/L) classes in government schools to prevent them from attending private tuition classes during school time. That is a damning indictment of teachers. There may be good teachers but there is little that they can do to clear up the mess that the school system is in. Have we ever heard of teachers unions ask their members to work harder to raise educational standards? Never! They are only campaigning to win their demands by holding children to ransom. They even stooped to the low level of boycotting the marking of GCE (A/L) answer scripts last year in protest against the government s failure to rectify their salary anomalies. They won t give two hoots about their responsibility.
The same is true of all other professions and their associations bent on furthering their own interests at any cost. They are badly in need of an injection. Let the much needed sense of justice and fair play be injected into them.