<br>Over 38,000 nurses working in government-run hospitals stayed away from work applying sick leave, demanding that they be provided with facilities for Covid-19 services, and the long-delayed promotion and disparities within other health workers be solved.
"Nurses battling the pandemic are given only surgical masks while authorities in AC rooms are given quality masks," Saman Ratnapriya, President of the Government Nursing Officers' Association, told IANS.
The union leader complained that nearly 4,000 nurses working on the frontline battling the pandemic have not been given a single vaccine dose.
The strike has brought work in over 1,100 hospitals to a standstill, while the services at nearly 250 medical offices and 17 nurses' training schools too have come to a halt.
However, nurses are attending to the emergency services at the children's hospitals, cancer hospitals and maternity hospitals. They are also, on voluntary basis, working at 125 hospitals and Covid centres where nearly 30,000 Covid infected patients are treated.
The trade union charged that the government has failed to address the long-pending demand to solve the promotion disparities among doctors and nurses.
"While the doctors get the first promotion in two years, the nurses have to wait for 10 years. While the doctors get their second promotion in the ninth year, the nurses have to wait for 20 years," Ratnapriya complained.
He said that six months ago, the government had promised to solve this disparity, but nothing has happened. He also complained that the Gotabaya Rajapaksa-led government has failed to act on his Presidential election promise to promote nurses' education to degree status.
While out-patients departments (OPD) at the hospitals look isolated, thousands of patients are seen flocking outside the hospitals.
Up to Wednesday, Sri Lanka had reported more than 259,000 Coivd-19 cases with over 3,000 deaths.