With the migration of medical professionals from Sri Lanka reaching an alarming level, exacerbated by the low salaries offered to specialists, the health authorities are now admitting that the situation is beyond their control.   

According to a top source of the Health Ministry, the Ministry is disappointed with the lack of support from relevant stakeholders such as Medical Colleges, Public Service Commission, and the Ministry of Public Administration in addressing this issue.   

“Immediate actions to tackle the exodus of doctors, particularly specialists, have become increasingly difficult,” the source said.   

Furthermore, a total of 274 specialists have migrated since last year with an additional 160 leaving the country without the ministry’s permission. Moreover, 785 specialists are set to go overseas for training, while approximately 600 doctors are expected to retire next year.   

Commenting on the matter, Dr Ashoka Gunaratne, the media spokesman for the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS), highlighted the significant role played by low salaries in the rising number of doctors migrating.   

He explained that the current salaries offered to medical specialists are insufficient to meet their critical needs, especially considering new taxation and a higher cost of living.

In contrast, foreign countries offer higher salaries and better accommodations, making them more attractive to Sri Lankan doctors.   

Gunaratne admitted that there is no concrete solution to address the migration issue at present, leaving the health sector on the verge of a major crisis.   

Meanwhile, informed sources reveal that Sri Lankan medical specialists receive an average salary of Rs 3.37 million in the UK, Rs 2.71 million in Australia, and Rs 1.6 million Oman and Rs 3.36 in the UAE.   

In stark contrast, the salaries of medical specialists in Sri Lanka are alarmingly low. A senior specialist earns a monthly income of only Rs 201,000 after all deductions, while a junior specialist is paid a mere Rs 128,500.

This vast salary disparity has prompted an exodus of medical professionals seeking better financial opportunities elsewhere.   

As such, headhunters from the UK and Singapore are currently engaging in active efforts to target our doctors, with the purpose of recruiting them for opportunities in their respective countries.   

These headhunters are making the process of migrating exceptionally convenient for doctors.

-daily mirror