Doctor Says

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Public health experts say ‘the right to health’ is unaffordable for Sri Lanka because the government health service can’t afford to pay damages if more people sue. Public health experts say ‘the right to health’ is unaffordable for Sri Lanka because the government health service can’t afford to pay damages if more people sue. Civil rights groups in Sri Lanka want Constitutional changes recognising the right to health, for Sri Lankan citizens, but doctors are not jumping for joy.

“If you go for a rights based approach people can sue the Ministry of Health and Director of Health. They can ask for huge sums in damages,” said Professor Ravindra Fernando from the Colombo Faculty of Medicine at a health workshop organised by the Law and Society Trust – a local advocacy group.

At this point, because Sri Lanka’s constitution does not guarantee the right to health, patients find it difficult to take legal action against the public heath service.

But government doctors say the right to health will hold the public health service ransom to what is can’t afford to provide.

“An OPD (Out Patient Department ) doctor sees 200 to 300 patients a day. With