The assumption made by the Secretary to the Ministry of Health that the 700 doctors who are currently overseas will return after their specialist training within the next two years is beyond our expectations, a senior consultant said.
Such a phenomenon would be highly unlikely under the present circumstances, he added.
A senior specialist who spoke to the Daily Mirror pointed out that there has been a big gap between the number of doctors leaving the country and the number of doctors returning in the past.
From 2016 to 2023, out of 168 doctors specialising in paediatrics who went abroad for training, only 98 returned to Sri Lanka, the senior consultant pointed out.
He also said that out of 200 anaesthetists who went overseas for specialist training between 2016 and 2023, only 108 have returned to the island.
The saddest part of all is that out of the 32 doctors specialising in paediatrics who were overseas for training in 2022, only three have returned to Sri Lanka.
According to this disclosure of the risks facing the health sector in Sri Lanka, it has been noted that more than 50 percent of doctors who leave the country are highly unlikely to return.
Meanwhile, the statistics of the Medical Postgraduate Institute indicate that the number of specialist doctors who have not returned to the country since 2016 is 160.
When these statistical data were brought to the attention of Health Secretary Janaka Sri Chandragupta, he told the Daily Mirror that 700 doctors who are currently undergoing medical specialist training abroad are scheduled to return to Sri Lanka in the next two years.
He emphasised that 300 doctors are scheduled to return this year, and the remaining 400 are expected to return in 2024.
The secretary said that a plan is underway to effectively manage and resolve a possible shortage of specialist doctors in local hospitals.
However, many experts agree that it is unlikely that the large number of doctors who are currently overseas will return to the country, as per the assumption of the Ministry Secretary.
In the meantime, It has been revealed that there is an exodus of doctors who are serving in the country now due to many factors, including low salaries, high taxes, limited career opportunities, poor working conditions, a lack of resources, equipment, and staffing problems in hospitals, political instability, and a lack of adequate care. (Inputs from the Daily Mirror)