10,400 New recruits: Golden era to the ‘Free Health Service’
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that his government has established the Golden Era of the "Free Health Service" and honoured the pledges enthroned in the “Mahinda Chinthana- Bright Future” to protect the Health Service. He made these remarks at the ceremony organised by the Ministry of Health to hand over letters of appointment to 10,400 health service personnel at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Tuesday 17 December.
The appointment letters handing over ceremony for the recruitment and training health service personnel to constitute an efficient and comprehensive health service with advanced human resources took place under the patronage of President Rajapaksa. The President officially handed over the appointment letters to personnel representative of all Provinces in the country. This is the first time in recent history that such a large number of personnel are being recruited to the health service. 6500 were recruited for nurses’ training while 1900 those who completed training were recruited to the Nursing Service. Another 2000 were recruited for paramedic services across 14 grades. In addition to this, 281 Vidya Peeta Graduates also collected their appointment letters at the ceremony.
Further expressing his views, the President emphasised that Sri Lanka is leading in the Health indices not only in South Asia but also in the entire Asian region. A fully-fledged hospital network has been built covering all the districts. Therefore a massive number of recruitments had been made into the health sector during the past period. It is a two-fold increase in comparison with the recruitments made before the present government assumed power. The allocation made by the government for the ‘Free Health Service’ in the budget is a four-fold increase when compared to the allocation made in the 2005 budget. The President pointed out that this amounted to Rupees 155 billion. Therefore the President was optimistic that these new recruits would be totally dedicated to their service. If they acted as exemplified by Florence Nightingale, the President pointed out that they could be satisfied in having fulfilled their responsibility.
Addressing the ceremony Minister of Health, Maithripala Sirisena described the event as a historic occasion and a revolution in the health sector. Sri Lanka has maintained a high standard in the field of healthcare, hence the Minister said that he expects every recruit to discharge their duties to the maximum treating all patients alike. Fully equipped hospital network has been built covering all districts. Quality of these hospitals is higher compared to the past. Some contagious diseases have been eliminated from the island. It is a great victory achieved by the health service. Minister Sirisena further told the gathering that World Health Organisation (WHO) and many other leading health related international organisations have conferred many awards to Sri Lanka Health Service as one of the best health services in Asia and the country had been able achieve this status due to their services.
President of the Public Service United Health Union, Ven. Muruttettuwe Ananda Thera, Deputy Minister Lalith Dissanayake, Secretary to the Health Ministry Dr Nihal Jayathilaka, Director General P.G.Mahipala and Ministry officials were among the large gathering present.
With the new appointments, country's nursing cadre in the state sector will be increased to 36,000 personnel and the Ministry expects to increase that number to 50,000. Meanwhile a new batch of 17,000 nurses will be admitted to the nursing schools throughout the country. However, a health sector trade union recently alleged that the government has decided to reduce the number of nurses in the state hospitals to 20,500.
Meanwhile in Jaffna, the protest carried out by 240 temporary workers who are currently employed by the Jaffna Hospital calling on officials to recruit them into the permanent staff entered its fifth day on Tuesday. These demonstrators had been recruited as temporary workers to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital five years ago.
Pix By: Sudath Silva