By Sheain Fernandopulle
Minister of Health, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana, has personally expressed his regrets to medical specialists at Ratnapura Teaching Hospital following recent statements made by Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MP Thalatha Athukorala.
Athukorala had accused certain medical specialists, including Consultant Pediatrician Saman Abeywardena, Consultant Physician Dr. K. Jeganathan, and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist Maithri Chandraratne, of obstructing the allocation of general wards for the establishment of the Professorial Unit of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sabaragamuwa.
Addressing Parliament earlier this week, Athukorala raised concerns about the alleged hindrance posed by the medical specialists to the establishment of the Professorial Unit, citing potential implications for the future of students.
In response, Dr. Abeywardena clarified the situation, explaining that, based on relevant circulars, it is not feasible to allocate general wards for the proposed Professorial Unit. He highlighted that, in accordance with the elevation of a hospital to the status of a Provincial General Hospital, three wards must be assigned for each medical specialty. These existing wards and units at Ratnapura Teaching Hospital were established well before the inception of the medical faculty at Sabaragamuwa University.
Dr. Abeywardena emphasized that both Sabaragamuwa University and the Health Ministry share the perspective that establishing new wards specifically for the Professorial Unit, rather than re-purposing existing general wards, is the appropriate course of action. He pointed out that the Health Minister and Health Ministry Secretary have explicitly stated the impracticality of allocating general wards for a Professorial Unit.
In response to Athukorala’s allegations, Dr. Pathirana personally expressed regret to the medical specialists and assured them that he would address the matter in Parliament.