29 November, 2020

Blog

SAITM: Is It A Growing Concern?

By Samandika Saparamadu

Samandika Saparamadu

Samandika Saparamadu

The private university concept was mooted in the late 1970’s with economic liberalisation policies. It also takes us to the painful traumatic memories of the late 80’s when hundreds of young men were brutally killed. This was during the reign of terror from 1986 to 1990 with the protest against the Private Medical College (PMC), Ragama. This saga of commercialising medical education continued with eight attempts to form Private Medical Colleges (PMC’s) over the last three decades. The lust for mega profits by some unscrupulous local businessmen in exploiting medical education has led to recent controversies and malpractices, which surfaced through reports and news headlines pertaining to the SAITM (South Asian Institute of Technology and Management) racket.

PMCs in Sri Lanka is no longer an issue of economics or health but sociological and political, much more deep rooted indeed. It is an important social determinant of the health of Sri Lankans over the next few decades. I will try to make it succinct to not waste reader’s time.

Status quo

Recently, I was taken aback by online comments, reviews and articles written against public universities and in favour of the PMC. I was curious on why there was so much animosity towards free healthcare system, free education and doctors in Sri Lanka. After some research, I discovered that this is a common problem in every ‘highly sought after’ field with limited opportunities, specially when it’s given on a merit basis! However, the online comments were completely undermining the experiences of my batch-mates during their housemanships (Internships) in Sri Lanka (SL), not too long ago. Fortunately or unfortunately, online comments and posts in general in Sri Lanka do not represent the normal curve. As per “Internet live stats” percentage of population with Internet in Sri Lanka is only 19.9% and internet literacy rate is even less than 20%, as per Department of Census and Statistics. Therefore, it is vital to point out that the online majority hardly represents the opinion of the country’s majority. Nevertheless, there are many socio-economic factors that make people hate doctors in Sri Lanka, and out of which the “Colonial factor” is an important one. It is certainly a topic for another day.SAITM

So, it is also crucial to acknowledge that online hate comments are not only about ‘Anti PMC’ sentiments (“No PMC” campaign), which could impose a falsified idea on people as if the campaign is against all private education institutions and students.

Now hang on there! We need to get to the basics first. Do you have an idea about child mortality rate in Sri Lanka, vaccine coverage, maternal mortality rate, doctor patient ratio, have you ever been to a peripheral hospital, have you ever been to outskirts of northern, north-eastern, central, north central, southern, western and eastern provinces (not on road trips!) and spoken to villagers in their native lands? If you don’t have a general picture regarding basic health and it’s shortfalls in Sri Lanka, I would strongly suggest that you do basic research immediately.

Quality and standards

I repeatedly came across this quote “Maintain the quality and let them carry on with SAITM (PMC in Sri Lanka)”. Here the million dollar question would be “how to maintain quality and standards?” Many people don’t bother about quality and in fact they don’t understand the determinants of quality that healthcare people are concerned about. Take this simple example. Do you remember the protesting state medical students a few years ago (They have been on the road pretty often over the last few years), asking for proper lecture theatres, professorial units and clinical facilities for Rajarata Medical faculty? Did you ever wonder what triggered that?

Was it because they were told by the government that their degree program is not validated by UGC (University Grant Commission) because of poor facilities? Did commoners take note of it and started picking on students of Rajarata University saying that they are not qualified enough to treat them? No! Those were requests arising from medical students, students’ unions (politically inclined and non-political) and trade unions of doctors.

In contrast, in the midst of the countless allegations made by SLMC (Sri Lanka Medical Council), GMOA (Government Medical Officers’ Association), students’ movements and the five member independent committee which was appointed by former Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena of the Rajapaksa administration, against the quality of training at SAITM, no one cared except a few parents of students of SAITM (about 10-15, and out of which most of them were doctors!) who sought legal advice on this matter, mainly to get their money back due to poor clinical training. And now, the SAITM students are out of the blue, on the roads asking for clinical facilities. Then again, did you wonder why? Have they now realised that the training is not good enough? No!

It is just because the SLMC decreed that the clinical training provided by PMC is not sufficient to be qualified for SLMC recognition. This is where the problem is and now we can get to the crux of the issue. When you buy a medical degree, you don’t ask for quality and what the student needs (or may be the parents of the student) is just an affordable degree, period! (provided you are not an exceptional high achiever). Let us also not forget that many get there or end up in private medical schools for many reasons (as per stats from Indian Private Medical Schools), when it is a commodity. Remember, it’s all about South-Asia, the largest cohort of self promotors who are abnormally obsessed about fake and superficial social status.

People start talking about the quality when they seek medical care and that is the basic need of patients and consumer behaviour. At that point they will be more inclined to know whether the doctor is an Indian (at Lanka hospital), or a locally trained doctor or as most preferred, both local and foreign-trained!

Board exams in medicine

I had a couple of conversations with my friends on this topic where I threw the question, “Forget about PMCs, tell me whether you are happy to take your kid to Mr.Xxx?” (This person failed a few subjects at A/L examination but he studied at a foreign university to become a doctor) Everyone looked perplexed as they shook their heads saying “No!”. In my opinion, I would not hesitate to take my family members (parents or kids) to him as far as he gets through the ERPM (Examination for registration to practice Medicine in Sri Lanka) / Act 16, because I know that he has passed the Sri Lankan board exams, in which we trust.

However SLMC has now rectified this issues with the new application process for foreign medical colleges through the Medical Council.

Whereas SAITM openly advertises “No Act 16 is required!”, when it comes to board exams. This is not a joke. It’s a shame that SAITM owner Neville Fernando is afraid of allowing his students to sit a common exam, which in turn jeopardises the lives of Sri Lankans. It is not a surprise, given the fact that Neville Fernando and his house has failed to release entry qualifications of his students at SAITM, so far!

Let’s analyse more socially inclined countries like most of Europe, New Zealand, Australia, more social capitalist countries like Germany, socialist Cuba and capitalist USA. All these countries are good examples of solid and sound regulatory mechanisms for recruiting medical professionals and all of them have strict board exams to measure and evaluate the level of knowledge and hands on training of a candidate. It is to make sure that countrymen get access to safe medical care and their lives are in good hands.

Let’s look at Sri Lanka in comparison to a few countries around the world when it comes to salient issues. For an example, we copy our taxation from Singapore, try to duplicate ruling powers of Singapore and even trade and finance models! Yes, all while competing in the same market as Singapore. We (as in the State) hate India (for the time being we are in India’s good books) Bangladesh and China (our government was in a romantic relationship with China a few years ago but not anymore) when it comes to power decentralisation, public transportation, education, medical care, public policies, hygiene, environment pollution, exploitation, women’s rights and population growth. Our politicos like to be good acquaintances of the US and the U.K. (with a positive connotation to colonial mindset) if its about public relations and Japan, if it is donations and aid matters.

The hypocrisy is real! Our politicians, educationists and other people who support the PMC always tend to take examples from India, Bangladesh and China when it comes to private medical colleges. Well, even Singapore, the epitome of Asian capitalism doesn’t have a Private Medical College (Duke-NUS is a semi government graduate medical school largely funded by the government and attached to NUS).

Class structure and income redistribution

Do ponder why our people do not bother to ask “Why are there so many cheap MBAs in every corner of the city?” It’s because of the same reason. The problem is, our people opt for elitism without understanding that spending a couple of million rupees (maybe even more) on a degree or getting medical treatments from a private hospital doesn’t get them there. If I cut to the chase, the Sri Lankan middle class doesn’t like to be called a “middle class”. Ultimately it sums up to an income redistribution issue if you bother to work it out. After all, without changing the system and without changing attitudes of people, it’s absolutely not worth talking about “Quality and Standards”. Nobody on earth can maintain it, specially in a country like Sri Lanka that has ranked pretty badly in the global political corruption list, as high as 83-85 (out of 165 countries), over the years.

The next determinant is income inequity which is an ever growing issue since 1948. People increasingly tend to think that bridging this gap isn’t a tough task as far as they have a cling to a corrupt politician. And unfortunately it works and I have tons of examples (I am sure that everyone has a story to share) on how people with the mindset of getting rich overnight, get things done by being on good terms with politicians. Interestingly it has a direct link to the process of student enrolment to SAITM as well. One student from Negombo got in to SAITM through the previous Minister of Education (S B Dissanayke) who was a friend of the student’s father without even a simple pass (S pass) for Advance Level (A/L) physics. It really does not matter whether the student has completed requirements on repeat attempts or not, as far as he gets enrolled into a degree program without qualifications. This is a serious issue and trusted news sources say that there are quite a number of similar stories at SAITM. It probably explains why the owner is reluctant to release entry qualifications of his students.

At this stage the other crucial question to ask is “Are we sure that 3 S passes is a good criterion to select a student for a medical degree?” Feel free to research and decide for yourself. One important thing to remember is that the medical profession is an age old field of tons of documented scientific work and it has evolved through millions of complicated processes to make sure that the patient/client is safe in the hands of a physician and NOT to make sure that everyone’s doctor dream comes true.

Political involvement

I know I have been talking about quality to a point of irritation. Doesn’t anyone question, “If the system is so fragile and vulnerable, how come we are confident that the state medical schools are well maintained and only qualified people are matriculated?”

The answer is quite interesting! There are many steps to make sure that correct candidates are always taken into medical schools in Sri Lanka. But using the Swiss cheese model of error analysis, there are rarely people who get in there without proper qualifications. Over the last 10 years I knew only one such incident and it was surprisingly (or rather not so surprising, given the history of his father!) a member of parliament “Chathura Senaratne”, who was the son of the health minister, Rajitha Senaratne. He was an Anandian and as per gossips from Ananda college, he hasn’t sat for his AL exam but got selected to either Ragama or Rajarata university. His Father pulled a few strings and finally got him to Colombo Medical College. He was 3 years elder to me and since he missed his batch a couple of times he ended up in my batch and particularly in my group because Senaratne and Saparamadu are two adjacent surnames in alphabetical order. So we were in the same clinical group for a few weeks during our second year and one fine day he told me and my friends “Machang, I have a spinal cord injury and need to go abroad for treatments. I am not sure of the day I can return…”. However he didn’t exactly know what was the issue of his spine/spinal cord and he vanished for years.

In 2012, my good old friend Buddhika rushed in to my room at Bloemfontein with a paper in hand and asked me to read the article. It was a Sinhala newspaper and the headline said “Cat-loving doctor couple”. Well, it was about Rajitha’s son Chathura Senaratne and his girlfriend who studied at SAITM (She is still attached to SAITM). By then, Chathura had gained his MBBS from somewhere and he was, for us, more like a quack. I hope this is a clear example of misleading political and media gimmicks that disrupts good working systems in the “Wonder of Asia”. Trusted news sources say that Rajitha’s daughter in-law is the reason why he is nauseatingly pro-PMC right now.

If we let this happen this time around, in a few years down the line it’ll be just like Indian private medical schools. Even the secretary general of Health Ministry will open one, because it’s always big money!

Well, if you are still not sure about ridiculous political backing to get this illegal proclamation legalised, I will share one personal experience with you. When I first wrote an article against SAITM back in 2011 as a member of the Medical Faculty Students’ Union (MFSU), it got published on a couple of websites to be thankful to DailyMirror and in turn it resulted in a special visit of a defence ministry agent to my Negombo residence showing how the government was pushing Neville’s almighty dollar and proving the existence of the then totalitarian rule.

Are we running out of doctors?

Other counter argument to quality is, “It really doesn’t matter even if there are both qualified and under-qualified people in the field, market will determine who are the best and the next…” So the counter question to ask is, “What is the reason to get poorly trained or “low-quality”(because it is officially labeled that the institution is not capable of producing good graduates with sufficient training) doctors in the healthcare system?” Why people deliberately want to change a system that performs well? Is it advised to change the winning team just before the finals of a cricket match?

Now the question to the question is, “Are we running out of doctors?” Answer is yes! We did not have enough doctors in Sri Lanka, and the estimated doctor patient ratio a couple of years ago was about 1:1811 as per a survey done by a group of researchers led by Dr Mendis. This ratio is far below the global average of 170 per 100,000 population but is encouragingly more than that of average of South Asia (40+), Bangladesh (23), India (51) and Nepal (05) but not on par with Pakistan (66) and Malaysia (67.3). It was expected that the doctor to population ratio in Sri Lanka to rise to about 90 per 100,000 population by 2015, in other words one doctor per 1100 persons. We are on the subject of numbers! Do we know how many doctors we need for Sri Lanka? There are many considerations other than doctors per 100,000 population to estimate this. Has the Ministry of Higher education consulted the Ministry of Health about the number of doctors to be produced each year before opening new government and private medical schools at great expense to the country? There is a lack of coordination, dialogue and policy between the Ministries of Higher Education and Health, the market and the consumption of manpower, respectively.

In short, ideally, the expected doctor-patient ratio has to be calculated and projected by the Ministry of Health (MoH) following a formal status analysis and the target has to be established as a KPI (Key performance index) in health manpower sector, and proper implementation plan has to be drawn together with the Ministry of Education to walk the talk as a ten year plan. But in contrast, the MoH has decreed that there is a doctor saturation in the country by 2016 and they are going to cut down the number of doctors absorbed in to the government sector. So, now the question remains a question! Why on earth does the government promote private medical education? Is it to force future doctors onto streets without internship opportunities and jobs? Create a work force into a field in which the government has cut down the demand? These policies and statements of the state clearly contradict each other like “living death” and promisingly exposes the corruption of prospects.

Medical education

Let’s talk more about Medical Education. It is a vast field that has even created tens of thousands of job opportunities around the globe. Not to boast about Medicine but it is a well known science in the world that has it’s own largest discipline for its educationists. This is because it has evolved from Egyptian civilisation to Hypocrites to modern technology driven medical practice over 4000 plus years, with piles of documented scientific literature. So, you and I cannot take things for granted when it comes to medical education because it rolls back to basics, which is safety of the patient first. Please read and be informed before thinking of commenting on another discipline or science which could be totally off your scope. If you have been a strong supporter of PMCs without knowing much about Medicine, I’m sure you will find “Blind men and the elephant” by John Godfrey Saxe interesting.

Having said that, don’t we need to urgently reform our health system? Yes indeed, we need big change! Our direct, referral-less channeling system, GP (General practitioner) system, inpatient and outpatient information systems, follow up mechanisms and many more have to be reoriented and a lot of changes need to be brought about in order to make our free healthcare system more accessible, safer, and more efficient. There are many interesting fields of study where people work tirelessly to make their professions efficient, safe and people friendly, including “behavioural insights”. So there are a lot of things for us to learn and implement, but if someone thinks that opening a private medical college and paving the way to open many more that are already in the pipeline will help you bring about a change, all I have to say is, my friend you gotta read first and get a good dose of reality!

It drains money out of the country!

Well, Facebook was tempting me to share a memory a few months ago which was a snapshot of an article that I wrote on this issue more than 4 years ago and it was absolutely a tremendous pleasure when I realised that what we researched, said and believed four years ago is still valid and facts and statistics are precise as of today.

I feel ridiculous when I recall how we used to counter argue, hilarious arguments like “it drains money out of the country”, “government should encourage such investments”, “creating opportunities”, “quality is not an issue as far as it is monitored”, “you got to maintain quality and not to shut it down” and etc. Also we wasted a lot of time on counter arguing “no opportunities for talented students”, “public sector is not accessible” and etc, because the answers are “Clearly hidden” in the campaign itself and the campaign is to find solutions to all these issues. These people who waste their valuable time on roads are protesting against obnoxious government policy driven pronouncements, to strengthen state education system, to reinforce medical education, to increase annual enrolments to universities with better physical facilities and to protect the residents including your near and dear ones. If it’s today, I would not bother to answer any of those questions and instead I’d simply say “Are you freakin kidding me, just go and do some self-study on the economics of the matter!”

Last but not least

The bottom line is; if people are inclined towards capitalism, more like a disguised middle class looking for trendy capitalism while living in a computer generated dream world aka Matrix, they should come up with smarter investment plans with clear win-win opportunities (there are tons of examples from around the world but I don’t want to waste time on this) if not let it be equally accessible while creating more opportunities for students (ideally our people should be deprived of benefits of free services to realise how important it is for any country, any society!) If someone is arguing for a midway approach (for an example a tripartite approach), which is great; make sure that the Government is financially strong enough, knows how to prioritise, corruption free and been endowed with a trustworthy court system. Trust me, we are no where close to realising this lucid dream.

Hope we can now get to the bedrock of this issue!

Now you may try answering one last question. Would we like to give “Sakvithi”, the famous finance fraud which came to light a few years ago, another chance to restart his business with proper structure and transparency while maintaining standards? If you can answer “yes”, you can probably say yes to giving Neville Fernando another chance to maintain quality and standards and to restart his business which was built on fraudulence, infringement, deceitful advertisements and underhand money in millions (Please read the report of the five member committee for more details).

At this eleventh hour it is our courteous entreaty that the good-governance government retracts this rotten legislation and publicise the illegally maintained Private Medical College, SAITM for the sake of highest standards of Sri Lankan medical services and swindled students of SAITM.

I rest my case!

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Latest comments

  • 12
    23

    This is off the mark. all these examples of MBA courses under trees etc are the result of a regulatory culture which frowns on non-state education . The fact is that all most all the top universities in the world are non-State.In every way the graduates we produce now are sub-standard.

    • 15
      2

      “All the top Universities of the word are non-state”

      Unlike in Sri Lanka although they are non-state, they are not-for-profit institutions. Most of the Sri Lankan private tertiary education institutions have the minimum of facilities (to keep spending down), no permanent staff (visiting staff, sabbatical staff or retired staff from public institutions), no research (not interested) and no human resources development (poaches those trained by the public sector). Both in Education and Health, the private sector cannot survive without public sector personnel.

      “In every way, the graduates, we produce now are sub-standard”

      Sub-standard talk is propagated by politicians with no qualifications at all and private sector management who owe their positions to cricket, rugger and failure at the A/L or foreign education funded by their elite families. It seems preposterous to say that A/L 3 Ss students at SAITM will be first-class doctors while 3 As students graduating from public sector medical schools would be sub-standard. “In every way, graduates produced by SAITM will be sub-standard” would be a more correct statement. Our public sector graduates are in high demand abroad and hardly anyone remains in the country two years after graduation – Medical to the few countries like Australia where entry into the profession is not restricted, Science, Agriculture and Engineering in most Western countries, particularly USA. The problem is that government wants to have free education but does not want to spend for it. So, a large number of rural children are duped into thinking that the only opportunities available for them, schools without science, english or IT and faculties of Universities where expansion is cheap but career prospects are limited will open the doors for a bright future. So the problem is not at tertiary education level but with our school system in the rural areas and nobody is focusing on that. Yet to hear of a single private University specializing or even providing opportunities in humanities or embarking on innovative models aimed at solving the problem of the rural sector in tertiary education. There is simply no money in it and that is what our new breed of education mudalalis are after.

    • 6
      12

      Some of the best Physicians and Cardiologists in Colombo came from NCMC Ragama. Not sure whether patients and public are aware of it?

      Separate private medical care from public health care to resolve these issues?

      Ban govt doctors from doing private practice and this will show that we need many more doctors to maintain a quality health service.

      By the way please don’t stop issuing car permits to GMOA members since most of the jeeps and 520d BMWs on the road were imported on these permits sold by govt doctors.

      SAITM is a must and the issues will be resolved within 3 months.

      • 1
        2

        Totally agree.

    • 4
      8

      Most of Sri Lankans have ‘billo’ scared mentality about private universities.
      They always have that socialist mentality built into their genes that private universities are bad.

      Lot of children go for overseas universities and come back and work in Sri Lanka. Many doctors studied in Russia, Pakistan, Nepal etc.. now work in Sri Lanka.

      Let government allow private education institutions to setup universities. If government want to control let them setup an organization to oversee. It can be even under existing BOI.

      This is just a policy issue people & government has to sort out, whether to have private universities or not. Nothing else.

  • 7
    21

    S. Saparamadu writes on SAITM.

    The words and phrases excerpted from the very first para are cited below. They are cleverly juxtaposed by the writer to prejudice readers and to take them off at a tangent. They are brought still closer by the commenter to highlight the absurdity in his reasoning.

    The private university concept—economic liberalisation policies.— Painful traumatic memories.…
    brutally killed.
    reign of terror from 1986 to 1990 …
    protest against the Private Medical College (PMC), Ragama.
    Commercialising medical education.
    The lust for mega profits— unscrupulous local businessmen— exploiting medical education.
    SAITM (South Asian Institute of Technology and Management) racket.

    Private University is treated as crass money making enterprise that was awaiting the unleashing of policies for economic liberalization. The outcome was painful traumatic memories, resulting from the brutally killed. They are linked as a protest against PMC which was treated as a step in commercializing medical education. What is the motivation? Lust for mega profits. Who is at the forefront? Unscrupulous local businessmen. What have they set their hands to? Exploiting medical education. SAITM is up to a racket.

    Nothing is further from the truth. If so what is the truth behind a private Medical College? For half a century and more the state has failed to provide adequate scope for capable students to qualify as doctors. The result was a thorough inadequacy in numbers for quality facilities.

    Private sector has entered the field to extend the needed support to widen opportunities and bring forth more doctors. But this must be thwarted is a category of thinking of which SS appears to be a spokesman.

    R.H. Thouless couldn’t have chosen a better para for his book ‘Straight and Crooked Thinking’ on the use of loaded words, to illustrate tendentious presentation.

    • 20
      2

      It does not look like the writer has excerpted words or phrases, but has eloquently described a bygone era that has actually existed in Sri Lanka a few decades ago. You wouldn’t have probably said it, If you lived in eighties and experienced the uncertainly of life and how people were killed on roads. I think It is wiser to talk about facts and stories given in the article than speaking about the entrance to the article by the writer.

      It looks like Barathan has not read the complete article before commenting on it. Actually the matters highlighted by Barathan have been broadly discussed throughout the article.

      The following paragraphs quoted from the article provide a clear answer to your concerns: For half a century and more the state has failed to provide adequate scope for capable students to qualify as doctors.

      “We did not have enough doctors in Sri Lanka, and the estimated doctor patient ratio a couple of years ago was about 1:1811 as per a survey done by a group of researchers led by Dr Mendis. This ratio is far below the global average of 170 per 100,000 population but is encouragingly more than that of average of South Asia (40+), Bangladesh (23), India (51) and Nepal (05) but not on par with Pakistan (66) and Malaysia (67.3). It was expected that the doctor to population ratio in Sri Lanka to rise to about 90 per 100,000 population by 2015, in other words one doctor per 1100 persons.
      The expected doctor-patient ratio has to be calculated and projected by the Ministry of Health (MoH) following a formal status analysis and the target has to be established as a KPI (Key performance index) in health manpower sector, and proper implementation plan has to be drawn together with the Ministry of Education to walk the talk as a ten year plan. But in contrast, the MoH has decreed that there is a doctor saturation in the country by 2016 and they are going to cut down the number of doctors absorbed in to the government sector. So, now the question remains a question! Why on earth does the government promote private medical education? Is it to force future doctors onto streets without internship opportunities and jobs? Create a work force into a field in which the government has cut down the demand? These policies and statements of the state clearly contradict each other like “living death” and promisingly exposes the corruption of prospects”

      The government as the main stakeholder of health of citizens has the responsibility to make sure that healthcare system functions well with ample physical structures, equipments, drugs, manpower and specialised skills. So the relevant authorities have to decide on the number of people needed to run the system in the future.

      I also found the following paragraph interesting with regard to Barathan’s argument.

      “At this stage the other crucial question to ask is “Are we sure that 3 S passes is a good criterion to select a student for a medical degree?” Feel free to research and decide for yourself. One important thing to remember is that the medical profession is an age old field of tons of documented scientific work and it has evolved through millions of complicated processes to make sure that the patient/client is safe in the hands of a physician and NOT to make sure that everyone’s doctor dream comes true”

      In addition, If its not for money no medical school in the world would ever enroll two batches of students a year knowing that the medical school does not have enough clinical material and facilities to train them. Well that is the difference between not-for-profits education and Sri Lankan private medical education.

      Barathan appears to be a spokesman of a minority that thinks, every single issue faced by the country could be addressed by privatization. I felt it because he/she claims that there is a significant doctor manpower deficit in Sri Lanka, without evidence. It is also the same category that brings examples from the US for everything including healthcare sector. They think we can establish private medical education held up by countries like the USA, while having quality assurance institutions worse than India and South Asia.

  • 5
    12

    The bottom line is all Medical Doctors from the private and government medical colleges must qualify the bench mark ERPM (Examination for registration to practice Medicine in Sri Lanka) / Act 16.

  • 7
    11

    Where were all these protesters living when KDU started giving MBBS degrees for cadets who has got only OL qualifications?

  • 3
    10

    Mr Saparamadu,

    1 It is Hippocrates (NOT Hypocrites. Important, unless you mean….)

    2 Do your figures for doctors/population take into account the large numbers of us who would rather opt for the Ayurvedic Veddamahataya? Many of who, by the way, do an excellent job in many areas of treatment.

    3 Why do those who can, send their offspring to train in the medical colleges of the ‘west’? Yes, including lots of doctors who received their education and training in Sri Lanka.

    4 Why do so many of our politicians opt to go overseas for medical treatment? Do they know something we don’t about our Sri Lankan medical education? Or is it because (like one politician I am aware of, who went overseas to have a bad case of STD treated) that they cannot depend on confidentiality if treated in Sri Lanka?

    • 16
      2

      Dear Spring Koha,

      1. It is surely a typo or an autocorrect. My bad!

      2. It is from an abstract which was published by the Ministry of Health and it didn’t mention the methodology. Unfortunately the full paper was not available online either, so I am not sure whether it included the cohort of Aurvedic doctors in its calculations. I know that there are lots of Ayurvedic doctors scattered around the country, rendering outstanding service in their own territories. Unfortunately there is a tug of war between Aurvedic doctors and others due to various issues that are spread across sundry strata. Eg: differences of practices, myths, competition, lack of scientific data and etc. It is indeed a sad state of affairs!

      3. I do not clearly understand your question. However I guess, I have mentioned this in the article and discussed, at length.

      4. This is an interesting topic. I think the main reasons are accessibility and efficiency. We do not have certain laboratory tests in Sri Lanka and sometimes we even send blood/tissue samples abroad to get certain investigations done, which invariably waste a lot of time (if not, plan of management purely depends on clinical judgement). Certain countries have designed their private sector medical facilities to promote “Medical tourism” and usually those services are exorbitantly efficient! In turn, demand unnecessary bulk investigations and cost a pretty penny, but our “well-to-do” politicians, do not hesitate to opt for medical tourism.
      Well, confidentiality also could be a contributing factor but for sure it is not the main reason behind the scenario.

  • 9
    0

    Saparamadu is making a few points in view of SAITM. As a marketer, who is interested in this issue of Saitm, I found reasonably valid arguments in the article.

    Apparently, political involvement has been a clear instrument and has played a key role in the issue of SAITM. If it was for the betterment of our country, the political support would have been given at a very different context or level. But instead, what we see here is just whitewashing of illegal business venture, through government press. And of course, the politicos quoted in the article are well known secrets of the island. It’s quite possible these dodgy politicians would have been involved in the story.

    Doctor/patient ratio and how it should be regulated by relevant authorities is also a practical point. Sadly our policy makers are neither making sensible statements nor putting effort to do proper research on this, at the first place.

    It is important to identify the importance of Act16 exam and the dialogue around it. Just like for any other specialty, governing bodies should play a strong role in medicine.
    If someone is trying to find loopholes to practice medicine in Sri Lanka it could always result with dire outcomes. We don’t need quack doctors.

    It is the middle class mentality that has wreathed the idea of making one’s child a doctor, irrespective of the abilities of the child to cope with it. It’s merely a social status symbol for the new rich. The university, grades or even license to practice doesn’t matter as long as the prefix ‘doctor’ is there for one’s offspring.

    I see very different views in comments and it seems people with fixed ideas on the matter, do not bother to read but instead just claim something to be true and legal. It would make sense if those people who comment to advocate SAITM could support their statements with valid facts and arguments to qualify its existence in our country, rather than just saying ‘it is a must’. Its worth spending some time on a good analogy with proper grounds, specially when it comes to entities that could have sinister outcomes, if not addressed and taken action in advance.

  • 0
    1

    Qualifications to enter Government Medical Faculty – 3Ss
    Qualifications to enter SAITM – 2Cs and S

    Examination results of any student is not public information. But if anyone wants to know the results of the students, you are welcome to show up at SAITM and request it. They will surely show you.
    The money that is spent by the students for the course, is actually used to pay the staff and to cover up the expenses of patients at the hospital.

    The doors of SAITM are open, come and have a look instead of speculating.

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      Doubt there are students who just got 3S in state medical faculties due the immense competition that exists.

      Viewing their exam results is quite useless. Because most of the medical education happens in a hosital.

      Starting from the 2nd year or the 3rd year, medical students spend increasing amount of time in hospital wards or theaters or clinics. This is where the students learn about clinical things. Students mainly lean things such as Anatomy, Biochem, etc. in the faculties.

      For that clinical training to happen, you need a good hospital with lot of patients. SAITM hospital (Neville Fernando Hospital) has about 50 patients admitted (daily avarage). Needless to say this is not enough for more than 500 students who needs clinical training.

      My suggestion is government should take this over because Mr.Neville Fernando has clearly failed to deliver his promises (in a country where rule-of-law is there, he would be facing charges for swindling money).

      And I’m not demanding that the students should be kicked-out. But they should be given a proper education and if they are qualified, should be allowed to practice medicine in SL. SAITM can function as a fee-charging government institute similar the SLIIT or NIBM/ NSBM.

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