uh, they are on to another one,” said Shelton Perera who was reading that day’s Daily Dodger.
“What’s that about, Shelley?” asked Joy, Shelton’s missus and silent partner in managing the popular Wallside Restaurant and Bar. The couple was spending some time together in their living room as there was plenty of time yet for Wallside to open its doors for another phase of business in satisfying habitual thirst.
Tommo a pussycat and Ooty an owl, who were practically their family retainers hung around as usual on their day off from the tiring job of controlling vermin. Pussy was slumbering on a well-padded chair and the bird was half asleep on the arm of another that bore some tell-tale scratch marks of the identity of the polish scraper.
Healers on strike
“The country’s so-called healers; who else? They have nosed out some other issues, and the government is expected to sort it out or it’s going to be another case of ‘or else’; and it’s ‘or else’ yet again. A stupid strike that has been launched on an exploratory note. In the rush docs want the President to sack the health minister who had supposedly done things that made them unhappy and even fidgety. How doctors expect a sacking of a minister just because they want it to happen, only heaven knows. Anyway, the government response has not been considered as adequate to satisfy the pain- in- the- neck characters wearing stethoscopes like medical garlands at a flower show. After being educated and trained to be doctors at state expense–which means public expense–taking a Hippocratic Oath etc., they still don’t understand and accept their responsibilities as doctors.” Shelton’s views regarding local doctors’ demands and strikes were commonly shared ones.
“Oh yeeees, and they are not new to the game of initiating strikes without any consideration to the thousands of sick people looking for free medicine at government hospitals. Don’t doctors realise that when government hospitals cease to function, the poor are compelled to turn to private sector medical services? But then how far can the have-nots go in private treatment? They are just too poor. There’s another thing, private hospitals are not as well equipped with regard to medical gadgetry as state hospitals. There’s no doubt about it; striking doctors are also placing the government that is responsible for making available free medical attention to the masses in a difficult situation. It’s sad that our doctors are behaving like real rasthiyadu fellows not doctors!” said Joy.
“Who can disagree with that? The days when doctors, were gentlemen; humble; not arrogant, vain or bent in amassing wealth and status but concerned in caring for the sick are long gone now. Their replacements are nowhere near that old crowd of healing stalwarts who were appreciated, respected and honoured. There’s nothing more to say really,” said Shelton.
“I agree with them wholesale,” purred pussy who had been following the husband and wife exchange. “Our governors’ doctors who are around today are of a different breed. Their favourite pose is ‘satisfy us if we are to work’. And they have the gall to call for press conferences to show how powerful they are and show their mugs on TV in self-promotion. The strikes that have followed when the medical royalty was not given their cream crackers and cheese will never be forgotten by poor governors who simply had to turn to private health care killers like Murdens, Hathsiri, Central, Hapaloo and another hundred or so hospitals that had doc mudalalis on their channel practice lists. The docs here are specialised in ego-building and money-making gundus. And they really demand their pound of flesh and blood, don’t they? Haven’t we had bitter tastes of it at a private hospital when I got operated by a sly Doc Shylocks for a problem I did not have?”
“Whooom. Whoomooo, I’ll never forget the amount of flying I did to collect enough dough to pay the Twin-Tower high bill. Can you remember I even tore a hamstring due to over-flying.” (No-one is sure where an owl’s hamstrings are). “That episode proved the nastiness of private practice. Again, unashamedly, the dostarays are on a token strike; when that’s going to be a fully fledged one as they have threatened, is anyone’s guess. Regulars with chronic illnesses required to attend on ‘clinic days’ must be thinking of their last rites already.”
"Even now village governors refer to them as ‘ape deiyo’ meaning ‘our gods"
Tie, after shave and stethoscopes
“Hooot. But didn’t the dostarayas that went on strike at one time because their luxury car permits were delayed, run ‘emergency units’ in hospitals to handle ‘near death’ cases?”
“Purrrshsh. That was a damn farce I tell you. When every governor who falls ill has a right to be treated at a government hospital, who the hell has any right to differentiate between an emergency case and one which is not? See, a governor with stomach pain may not be suffering from gas but from an infected appendix about to burst-that’s an emergency; a reason a child is vomiting may not because of walloping ice cream gone bad, but concussion after a fall from bed; that too is an emergency; an old governor with a cough and a wheeze may be heading for pneumonia and a pregnant lady governor complaining of cramps may be heading for a miscarriage. Bothe can turn into emergencies. That means any medical condition has the potential to end as an emergency. And who is to decide? The three wheeler driver who brought the patient; the grade 8 daughter who accompanied her or a hospital attendant? Most docs are much like kattadiyas who prioritize their devil chasing treatment on the amount of money they can scrounge.”
Ha,ha,ha,” laughed the bird. “I agree, our dostarayas don’t know mercy and kindness. But they are well up on the latest models of SUV’s, the best chances of making money locally, foreign scholarships and jobs overseas, in that order,” Ooty hooted.
“Meeoowwyep (yep). Our docs are also damn dense, aren’t they? They may quote the UN declaration that strikes are a basic human right, but isn’t their Hippocratic Oath to medical care a human right contract that is superior to any other contract? For heaven’s sake, after taking the oath, they are supposed to be the messiahs of pain and sickness who have vowed to act in the interest of those who are ill above everything else? No wonder our governors accuse doctors of inexcusable misconduct.”
“I don’t think the dostaraays here dipped in after shave and wearing ties have any idea of that obligation. Thuhoooot; in my book, doctors’ strikes are OK if there are to gain benefits for medical pros, patients and also hospital services; not just to satisfy dostarayas. This time round, they have moved away from their own gripes to poke fingers into Yahapalana governance. That’s not their business.
"Docs have a choice; follow union dictates and strike or remember their Hippocratic Oath and their contract to look after the sick and ease their suffering"
To strike or not is an individual decision
“Pursshsh. I pity them and also the Yahapalakayas who are trying to do something just a bit better than the Yama crowd that destroyed the country. But docs are not interested in giving a helping hand. They are only interested in improving their own portals. Here’s the important thing; even if the government fails to get the doc union big wigs to be realistic and refrain from striking, docs have a choice; follow union dictates and strike or remember their Hippocratic Oath and their contract to look after the sick and ease their suffering.”
“Whooom, whooom,” went the wise-looking bird. “Dostarayas should also realise they are judged and viewed by high standards. Why even now village governors refer to them as ‘ape deiyos’ meaning ‘our gods’. Also, as healing professionals they should know that going on strikes is a clear breach of their social contract in treating sick governors. I feel that the better men will decide right and receive our governors’ salutes of appreciation and gratitude.