22 May, 2019

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SAITM Issue: A Rational Approach Needed

By R.P. Gunawardane

Prof R.P. Gunawardane

There have been wide ranging views expressed extensively in all media regarding the degree awarding status of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) in respect of their medical degree program. I consider this as an extremely important national issue with regard to the expansion of higher education sector in Sri Lanka. Therefore, we need to address this issue without any bias and considering the current realities, global trends in university education and long term national interests in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Ministry of Health are the three most important organizations responsible to settle this issue. It is apparent from recent developments, particularly after the appeal court decision that all interested parties pursue confrontational approach rather than trying to move towards settling the issue in the best interests of the students who have gone through the SAITM program. It is also regrettable to note that some trade unions of respected professions are resorting to trade union action against an order issued by the Court of Appeal. In any country independent judiciary is responsible for the interpretation of the law and for checks and balances of the executive and therefore, the decisions of the judiciary should be respected. A good example is coming from the USA where the President, considered to be the most powerful person in the world, had to accept a lower court ruling to suspend his executive order preventing immigration from some selected countries. Thus, such legal disputes could only be settled by legal means alone.

Suggestion by some interested parties to take over this institution to the government is counterproductive. It will definitely make the matters worse. It is grossly unfair to bring down an important institution built up by a dedicated group of Sri Lankans just because it has some deficiencies. It is much wiser to get the SAITM to correct the deficiencies and conform to the guidelines stipulated by the regulatory bodies. Closing down or government takeover will seriously hamper much needed non-state sector participation in the expansion and diversification of higher education in this country. Instead such ventures should be encouraged and promoted under a proper regulatory mechanism so that similar issues will not arise in the future. Thus, deficiencies in SAITM medical degree program should be addressed and remedial measures taken immediately by the SAITM administration in consultation with the SLMC, UGC and the Health Ministry.

It is regrettable to note that SAITM on their part has continuously disregarded the guidelines issued by the regulatory bodies in their development process. Their gross negligence towards the stipulated guidelines is clearly evident as reported by Professor Carlo Fonseka. In addition, SAITM authorities have not explained the current status of their degree program to the students at the time of admission. It is rather unfortunate that no action has been taken by the appropriate authorities well in advance to avoid the present situation. Now the first batch of SAITM medical students is already graduated and they are really the victims of the lapses on the part of the SAITM and regulatory bodies. There is evidence to show that the SAITM authorities have made some attempts to use government hospitals for clinical training with no success. It is important to point out that their attempt to use a government hospital for clinical training was stopped by the same group vehemently opposing the provisional registration of SAITM graduates!

The most important point raised against SAITM medical training is the inadequacy of their clinical training component and perhaps the lack of sufficient qualified staff required for different disciplines. These deficiencies can be addressed in the short term in respect of those who are graduated recently, while a long term permanent solution may also be worked out as suggested by some parties.

In the short term, the most urgent issue is to sort out the provisional registration of the first batch of students graduated from SAITM. It is essential that the authorities work out a plan immediately in the best interest of these students who are really the innocent victims. In this connection, the proposal presented by the Deans of the state medical schools merits serious consideration although it does not appear perfect. They have proposed that these students should be given clinical training in four specified disciplines for a period of one month in each case in a teaching hospital. However, it is difficult to imagine that this short training program would be sufficient to cover up their deficiency since the students in state medical schools go through a rigorous clinical program for a period of over 3 years. Yet, it is necessary under the circumstances to implement an acceptable fast-track clinical training program for these affected students by the Ministry of Health as early as possible with the agreement of the SLMC.

Most serious issue with regard to private medical schools as well as newly established state medical schools is the quality of clinical training. Lack of a proper teaching hospital for clinical training at the SAITM is a very valid issue that should be addressed as early as possible for a long term solution. A suggestion to use Avissawela hospital for clinical training has been raised. This may be a good idea because it does not seriously affect medical students of other faculties. Once an acceptable hospital is selected the government may establish a state-private sector partnership to develop the selected hospital under the guidance of the health Ministry. SAITM can upgrade this hospital under the guidance of the health ministry to satisfy the needs of clinical training of SAITM students. This will satisfy SLMC requirements and benefit both the government and the SAITM in the long term.

It is extremely important to note that all the requirements and standards stipulated by the SLMC or UGC or any other relevant regulatory body should be applicable equally to all state and private sector medical schools. This is the internationally acceptable and a fair procedure, which should be acceptable to any court of justice. The SLMC will have to demonstrate that this is the case. If a private medical college operating in Sri Lanka satisfies these conditions, there is no need for their students to sit the ERPM exam for SLMC registration. They should be treated exactly the same way as for students from state medical schools.

We have 7 (Colombo, Peradeniya, Kelaniya, SJP, Ruhuna, Jaffna, Rajarata and Eastern) state medical schools in the university system coming under the purview of the UGC. In addition, another medical school was also opened recently at the Kotalawala Defense Academy (KDA) outside the purview of the UGC. State medical schools coming under the UGC are well regulated through the UGC itself and its Standing Committees, but it is not the same for KDA which is functioning under the Ministry of Defense. In these circumstances, it is hard to believe that the KDA maintains the same standard of training as in other state medical schools. It is in this context, most observers question the rejection of SAITM while the same SLMC has accepted the KDA Medical School in addition to the newly established and poorly equipped state medical schools such as Rajarata and Eastern.

The general public expect the regulatory bodies such as SLMC to be completely impartial and independent in dealing with these matters of national importance. If there are any plans to amend the Medical Act/ Ordinance, it is also important to consider broad basing the composition of the SLMC to include some non-medical professionals so that SLMC is not dominated by a particular interest group. Similar medical councils in most developed countries have wide representation including professionals from other disciplines and prominent civil society members.

Since KDA Medical School has come up for discussion it is necessary to examine the setting up of the KDA medical school by the Defense Ministry. It is also a state medical school, although it does not come under the UGC. In the state sector new medical schools are established based on the need after a careful study of the infrastructure needs for teaching, clinical work, library and availability of teaching staff in different academic and clinical disciplines among many other factors. This is usually done by the UGC through its Standing Committee on Medical and Dental Sciences. Apparently the UGC has not been consulted officially and this procedure has not been followed. In such a scenario it is hard to imagine how standards can be maintained or monitored in the absence of any expertise in the defense establishment.

In addition, there are other pertinent questions. How many doctors are needed to the defense establishment per year? Why not train the few doctors needed by the Army, Navy and Air Force in the existing medical schools in Colombo, Peradeniya, Ruhuna or any other faculty by spending a fraction of the colossal amount used for the establishment of a separate medical school? This is extremely important because the existing medical schools are already under funded and they need extra funding to improve their facilities.

In a previous article (Island, December 9, 2016) the author highlighted the importance of establishing an independent Accreditation and Quality Assurance Council (AQAC) applicable to all state and private sector university level institutions in Sri Lanka. Role of such an institution in this particular case is accreditation (a form of licensing) and quality assurance of the degree programs in collaboration with the relevant professional body in each discipline such as SLMC in the case of Medicine. In the absence of such an authority (AQAC), this function has to be performed by the UGC along with the SLMC.

In the accreditation process for medical schools, due consideration must be given specifically to minimum criteria (A/L requirements) for admission, availability of infrastructure facilities for teaching, laboratory work and library, plan for clinical teaching/ teaching hospital, quality of academic/ clinical staff and availability of scholarships/ loan schemes for needy students.

While this specific issue regarding non-state sector medical schools being discussed, some interested parties are bringing a general issue against the establishment of private universities in Sri Lanka. They claim that it is against the free education policy in this country. Thus, it has become more of a political issue. It is surprising that no one is bothered about private sector participation in the education, health care and in many other sectors in this country. It must be realized that the state and private sector institutions can coexist and compete without harming free education policy as it happens now in the education sector.

Almost all Montessori preschools are run by the private sector. There are many private sector primary/ secondary schools operating throughout the island while we practice free education to all. Some of these private schools are of extremely high standard. There are many non-state sector universities and other degree awarding institutes operating in the country for many years. High quality private hospitals operate side by side with state hospitals providing valuable service while we practice free health care to all in the state sector. Government doctors are free to practice in private hospitals although some tend to abuse this freedom. Similarly, private sector organizations operate in competition with the state sector in the transport, insurance, banking, media, fuel, energy, trade and in many other fields giving people enough choice and thus benefitting the customers. Then, why this fuss about private universities and private medical schools as long as they comply with common rules stipulated by the regulatory bodies?

It is important to note that the top and highly rated medical schools in the world are all private, but non-profit institutions. Examples are Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins medical schools in USA. Their admission is based purely on merit worldwide and financial aid is mostly need-based. Private medical schools are operating in parallel with state medical schools in our neighboring countries like India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Our students go to these countries and others like China, Malaysia, Cuba and East European countries to study medicine. When they return they sit the ERPM exam and start practicing in Sri Lanka. We know very little about the quality of their medical education, for that matter SLMC has not sent teams to inspect these medical schools. Yet, they are allowed to practice medicine in Sri Lanka. Then, why this double standards approach to SAITM when they are ready to fulfil requirements stipulated by the regulating authorities? Thus, all parties should assist and cooperate with SAITM in their effort to overcome deficiencies and upgrade facilities for clinical training.

We have seen over the years in this country that the state monopoly on university education has hindered expansion, diversification and innovation in the higher education sector. It is also evident that state alone is not in a position to provide sufficient opportunities to satisfy the current and future demand for university education. Broad-basing the providers of tertiary education also introduces an element of competition to the system, which is expected to improve quality, provide more variety and reduce cost of training. Thus, it is time for us to promote and facilitate private sector participation to establish universities in all disciplines including medicine with the implementation of national accreditation and a monitoring mechanism in association with professional and regulatory bodies which includes SLMC in the field of Medicine.

*The author is a Professor Emeritus, University of Peradeniya, formerly Secretary, Ministry of Education and Higher Education and Chairman, National Education Commission, Sri Lanka

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Latest comments

  • 6
    8

    Urgent issue in registration of SAITM doctors is to give internship training as per court verdict. Nothing else can be worked out with GMOA which obstructed it for 7 long years, including the time when SAITM got Supreme court order for forensic and community medicine training in Avssawela hospital. This exempts from ERPM Act 16 with same subjects. They want to force an ERPM on SAITM to fail them to prove their standard. Deans of SLMC trick is the same, knowing very well that GMOA will do the obstruction. If SLMC really wanted to sort this out, they had 7 years. Now SAITM is reaching excellent standards and nobody likes that. SAITM is able now to employ excellent Professors and Consultant teachers, and the students gain without street dramas and tortured ragging. Its an injustice to treat SAITM doctors as student clerks. They need their judicial right to internship training and SLMC wants courts to send them back to school delaying tactics till govt is forced to take over. English Language labs are urgently needed from Day 1 in uni.
    We must not fail in this unique moment to shift this nation to a higher level in education. More uni or poor

    • 6
      1

      Do

      • 2
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        Let the students who have done best at ALs get their Uni education free and the Other kids pay for their Uni education. Anything wrong?

    • 11
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      Mr doctor
      First, a court can’t force the SLMC to register students who have not completed the criteria required by the SLMC. What is next? Courts decide who is competent to practice medicine??
      Second, who guaranteed the admitting students that they can/will be registered with the SLMC and licensed to practice??

      • 3
        8

        The guarantee you speak of should not be given by SLMC at the beginning, when there are no students, no hospitals, no staff, no curriculum and no examinations. Every SAITM student at that time was interviewed by UGC for entry criteria. Then as things started to fall into place and the place gathered momentum, population increased, Prof. Carlo visited and promised to approve it, confirming writing it in blood. So the basic curriculum and that standard was approved. GMOA obstructed from beginning to end. In July 2015, a 10 member inspection team of SLMC submitted a report, showing shortcomings as expected and recommendations. Strangely, recommendations were omitted and a twisted report saying “Never to be approved” was sent to all and also publicized as profit making. SLMC never had written criteria, and approval is a process with many stages. They finally approved MBBS of NCMC and KDU and so why not SAITM. As I see it, hospital is on a loan and extremely expensive to maintain with excellent staff salaries, training students temporarily in 7 hospitals with payments. Teething trouble is there in any establishment, but SAITM has overcome most of it through good teachers. Contrary to accusations their MBBS is second to none, court has directed stubborn SLMC to register them for internship, and the rabid mafia is obstructing law and order. Justice will prevail.

        • 7
          1

          doctor,
          You haven’t given an answer to my questions.
          If you say that there can’t be a guarantee when there are no students, no hospitals, no staff, no curriculum and no examinations, what do you have to say to those students who enrolled to pay close to a million Rupees for a program that does not guarantee a license to practice? Who do you blame for their plight?
          You need to grasp the fact that registration and issuing licenses to practice Medicine is under the jurisdiction of the medical body (SLMC), but it is not the business of judges, lawyers or politicians. If you feel the SLMC is unfair and discriminatory in their accreditation criteria, you should go to courts to show that they are discriminatory or unfair. If the court agrees the courts can order to correct those criteria without affecting the quality of practice of medicine. But never, the court can order to register anyone that the SLMC has deemed not suitable for registration.

          As of now, the only solution should be that the gov. takes it over and admit students through the same merit list used for the state medical schools but only after the SLMC accredit it. This will result in a high quality student body who would otherwise be doing dentistry and veterinary sciences.
          For the students who graduated from Saitm, they should be given the chance to pass the same exam that is given to other foreign graduates.

          • 2
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            Eusence,
            Cannot understand why you all are against SAITM so much. From these comments what I believe is you are another medic who is worried of losing monopoly in the field and do not want others to enter the profession. Why should GMOA oppose govt policy of training them in hospitals as they belong to the govt and doctors are only paid employees.
            I believe whole composition of the SLMC needs changing. You do not need only doctors and all nineteen of them in that committee. Why three to represent GMOA. They are not the only professions need SLMC registration to practise their profession. What about representation from allied fields. GMOA is a trade union and there are other allied unions too.
            Prof. Carlo can leave SLMC saving his face using hospitalisation as the excuse. Otherwise, either he will have to face a jail term or sacking.

            • 6
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              mr. saks
              I am not against SAITM. What I am showing is how unprepared and foolish SATIM was to startup a Medical School and how foolish the students and parents to enroll in a medical school without any guarantee of SLMC registration. Nevil Fernando as a physician should have known better that the most important aspect of starting a medical school is getting accreditation from the SLMC for registration and licensing of these students. That should have been his first priority. He got easy money from the then gov. who was hell bent on doing anything what they wanted by hook or crook. Nevil thought with the support of those corrupt politicians he could steam roll the SLMC to register his student. He was dead wrong. The medical population will never allow any corrupt politicians or private money makers to interfere and hijack the quality of the medical profession.
              My second concern is, the medical profession should never allow low quality students to get into medical schools and become below par physicians. That is why I firmly believe that all private medical schools, if accredited by the SLMC, should admit students only from the merit list used for gov. medical schools. This way we get the cream of the country.
              I have explained above why Carlo should and will never be prosecuted. A Judge and a bunch of lawyers have no right and it is illegal to decide who should be registered as a medical practitioner! If anything happens to Carlo the consequences will be unpleasant.

              • 2
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                The important people here are the MBBS doctors to serve SL and not whether Carlo gets prosecuted or not. If what we see on the street marches are the cream, we will all need help sooner than later with our sicknesses. Many think the quality of a doctor can be measured by A/L results. Wrong. The ability to assess and diagnose requires a combination of many skills, compassion, and the desire to help another human being to come into wholeness and not this current mania to destroy. SLMC is accountable and responsible to define standards/accreditation for all medical schools in the country whether state or private and they failed badly on this issue. That is why the courts had to pronounce what was legal and what was not in saying that SLMC violated the Medical Ordinance and that SAITM had the legal right to receive internship training, according to the presented documents telling the complete story of transition from foreign MD to a local MBBS written by a former SLMC Prez. In fact, malicious intent of SLMC was considered but not upheld. Bias had entered the scene. 42 page verdict. Practice is done through the heart of a doctor and cannot be hijacked unless willing.

                • 4
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                  mr. medic
                  It does not matter whether it is the cream or the scum, citizens of Sri Lanka are free to express their opinion which ever way they want. Nobody can stop anybody. Don’t worry, when it comes to academic and intellectual capacity the cream of the country got admitted to the gov. medical school. The ones who were deemed unsuitable got admitted to SATIM. So, we will not “need help sooner than later with our sicknesses” because the SLMC is keeping them out.
                  You say “Many think the quality of a doctor can be measured by A/L results. Wrong.”.
                  Medic, can you suggest any other way we can choose students to medical schools here in SL? What experience do you have in medical education? Do you really think we can accurately evaluate the ability of a student’s diagnostic skills, compassion, and the desire to help another human being to come into wholeness? If you come up with a fool proof method I am with you. Or are you trying to say that SATIM students were admitted based on these skills???

                  If you and SATIM knew that SLMC has badly failed in defining standards/accreditation for medical schools, why did SATIM started up a Medical school before forcing SLMC to lay down this information? Who should be blamed for that? If at all the only action of a court should be order SLMC is to lay down it’s accreditation criteria, but never, to register students that are deemed incompetent for licencing. In fact the court should have thrown out the case, based on that SATIM continued to admit students while they knew that there were no accreditation criteria available from the SLMC.
                  Are you saying that the foreign MD to local MBBS recognition list had SAITM too?? If that is true the SATIM students should also sit for the same exam what these foreign MDs sit without all these unnecessary court and public out cry.

    • 2
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      As it is the case for other PVT medical colleges and their quality maintainance- why not local STATE and PVT medical students be subjected to one common exam in order to gurantee the degree. Be it awarded either by PVT ways or State means, in the end, any medical doctor to prove owning the same certificate… can resolve the problem.
      It is like if you filter things with a same filter regardless of where you collected the materials.

  • 3
    1

    SAITM is a must and hopefully Yahapalanaya govt has the backbone to go through with Manipal and another 1-2 fee levying medical schools as well. We should start sending our doctors overseas for employement in time to come.

    GMOA is a trade union and cannot hold a Government to ransom when their dominance is threatened.

    UGC should be impartial and whether private or state medical schools should be measured with the same yardstick. Cannot insist SAITM to have a minim number of professors when Aunuradhapura and Batticala have no professors. Cannot give preferential treatment to KDU.

    Should consider having same exams as Similar to Law College where all students whether they have studied internally or at private institutions or overseas should sit for the same exams.

    At the same time the facilities at state medical universities should be improved and if possible the numbers increased as well.

    At some point a decision has to be made as to whether doctors is govt service should be allowed to do private practice since this the biggest issue at present and the power of GMOA is derived through this,

    • 2
      1

      Do.

  • 3
    1

    Prof. RPG has well articulated facts about SAITAM issue. GMOA objected and ruined their training at Awissawella hospital and now they claim that the degree is sub-standard. Also, no one worries of the sub-standard training of foreign graduates who dissect dolls instead of human bodies and never get a chance to even touch the white skinned patients. What clinical training these foreign graduates get? I am sure SAITAM Graduates get a far better training compared to most foreign graduates. Why is the GMOA silent on this issue? Even in hospitals where these foreign graduates work after ACT16 locally qualified graduates find the lack of a standard of these foreign graduates. The GMOA is silent on this issue because a lot of these foreign graduates are their own members.

  • 3
    0

    Do you think President Sirisena will give a solution? I doubt (from his performance during the past two years). If he were a waiter in a restaurant, and if you order breakfast thro this waiter, you would most probably get it at the dinner time.

  • 4
    3

    GMOA now wants to take over SAITM but has no authority. This TU does not obey policies and principles, but is using authority of SLMC its co-partner to somehow fail SAITM through an ERPM of sorts and prove their stand now that they failed legally. SAITM will be foolish to agree to anything except the court verdict until another verdict comes and must oppose any accusatory petitions most of which will be the SLMC putting their own house right. If SAITM does not understand rabid GMOA and SLMC, it will pay a price. It is only through a legal process that SAITM can survive longterm against the powerless GMOA. No other law

  • 4
    2

    Sound arguments to justify SAITM. Double standards of the SLMC is the core issue in resolving this problem.Private sector,we are told ,is the Engine of growth. Why not include University education in this engine?

  • 4
    6

    SAITM has “trained” those who scored low marks in the A Level, insufficient for entry to any Faculty of Medicine in Sri Lanka merely because they could afford Rs. Six Million.

    SAITM is really a business enterprise of Neville Fernando, to market a much wanted commodity – medical degrees – to those who could afford the high price.
    Now those “trained” are reluctant to reveal their entry marks at SAITM.

    In regular medical faculties, dissection of human bodies for two hours daily for fifteen months are done with oral exams every two weeks, while attending lectures for five hours each day.
    Clinical (related to patient care)training begins in the second year with pre-clinical classes, and from third year they follow clinical training with lectures and ward classes in hospitals, while studying other related disciplines.
    Each student has to have attended/assisted at prescribed number of pathological/judicial post-mortems, and has to have delivered prescribed number of babies, in maternity wards, attended/assisted at surgical procedures, worked/assisted at blood banks, pathology laboratories, attended ENT, Eye clinics & procedures.
    These were/are lacking at SAITM.

    • 4
      2

      A/L entry marks are available at UGC.which interviewed and approved them. Better avoid false accusations. Have you seen the daily routine at SAITM, theatres, wards, maternity etc. Numbers may be less than NHSL but even Colombo students have no access to every overcrowded ward. They are allotted a few patients to clerk, which is what the trickery of deans are suggesting for SAITM doctors so that GMOA can manhandle them and hinder. Come on how many judicial postmortems did this writer do. Big talk. Where did you work in a blood bank, Who said SAITM students don’t dissect bodies. You even accused them of getting illegal bodies. Surely not murder. Don’t talk of lack till you officially are allowed inspection. You say marks insufficient for entry. Did you see the marks list. Better wash your brain

    • 1
      0

      Just name one student who happens to be having low marks. Do you have facts or just repeating what GMOA is saying. And for your knowledge prof Carlo passed only 2 subjects for his university entry at that time.

  • 2
    3

    There is a youtube clip explaining the whole issue of SAITM. It explains how since 2011 until 2013 everything unfolded little buy little. Minister S.B. dissanayake had been the higher education. SAITM management also had been dishonest because, they did not think about the students. they wanted to establish a business. It is very clear the way they handled it. there are businessmen involved in thIs is initial establishment of the Asian Institute of Technology. Minister also took SAITM under the ministry Secrfetary and removed it from UGC.

    Sri lankan govt is corrupt. If the govt is genuine, they would prosecute every one. Obviously, no one would work in Sri lanka then. the reason is in Sri lanka everything do it crooked.

    Govt has given a Rs 500 million loan to the SAITM. I think that loan is not repayable because businessmen knows how to trun around it. If we dig enough we find some good money went to the minister too.

    SAITM has started as some thing. But, at the time of full establishment it had the words Medical science and Nursing. Yey, it did not have a Library or even lab facilities.

    Sri lanka does not have laws to prosecute white collar criminals too.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words.Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

  • 1
    2

    The fact GMOA and SLMC hides is the COMMON MCQ PAPER given to State students to qualify for internship in the 4 subjects at the finals. This is what should legally be given to KDU and SAITM to test std. for uni under UGC. It is part of MBBS, not addition. The deans are slimy and want to add another 2 years on the ERPM with much training and examiner fee extraction and delaying tactics. This farce should not be allowed. ‘Foreigns” have no choice. Future med. schools need new laws. But there has to be One Standard for patient care, whether free or fee locals or ERPM foreigns. GMOA obstruction of SAITM was to push it illegally into the foreign category with 2 year delay, abolish it totally, or absorb it so they can control.

    • 2
      1

      GMOA days of dominance and holding pstients to ransom are numbered.

      SLMC chief will step down within one month and looking for an escape route right now.

      Everything will be sorted and please be patient.

      Manipal Uni is on the way. One of the large hospitals in SL is considering entering medical education.

      Hope unis like NSBM will venture into medical education as well.

      Future is much brighter.

      • 2
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        Mr Fernando
        No country in this world will allow medical education to come into their country without being accredited by its medical body (this medical body in Sri Lanka is called the SLMC). They are the ones who grant accreditation to schools, registration of medical graduates and issue licenses to practice medicine. Why do you think that when the current Chief of SLMC step down things will be sorted out? Are you saying that the new Chief will allow anyone to be registered to practice medicine, no questions asked??

  • 4
    1

    First clean Public University system. It is rotten to death. Fake professor appointment to bad governance everywhere and zero quality. Take class size. Class size should not be more than 40. But your class size some time one Lecturer with 1000 students.

  • 2
    0

    SAITM issue took a turn as its President is in Cardiac Intensive Care Unit for the 2nd time in 6 months. His term ended last year, but was extended for a few months to receive court verdict and bring things to a conclusion. He thinks SLMC is his private property and starting to go to courts again. This is illegal as he does not have the authority of an appointment long enough to carry out court procedures. His age of 84, absence of an authorized 5 year term, lack of good physical health, are factors why he should willingly step down. Let a balanced, healthy, teachable and visionary full term appointee take the helm for long term policy decisions for profession,medical education of next generation, and non violation of medical ordinance.

  • 2
    1

    My answer is very simple. The SLMC is the only authoritative body in the country to decide the doctors or medical institutions. I do not want to get treated by a person who has not been accepted by that body. Nor, I don’t want a person who has come out of an institution that has not been accepted by the SLMC. The institution that enrols students for a medical degree, must have the registration from SLMC before the first day the course starts. So, non of the students who are currently in the SAITM are not allowed to treat me even they are allowed to practice. My life is valuable to me than any kind of justice to any other person.

    • 2
      2

      Agree your life is valuable. More needed for good patient care than SLMC registration, specially now that it has become so biased. Patient care applies to body, emotions, thought patterns and behavior patterns. SLMC is aware that psychiatry as an important component of Final MBBS, but cannot be taught in deficient Rajarata. Combined Deans Uni solution was to scrap the subject in all faculties to make all uniformly ignorant of the subject. Who will attend to the mentally ill, so prevalent in our nation. SLMC accepts that standard, and there are several more. The need of the hour is to have one high standard exam for all by a panel of all examiners several times a year, not just single out the fee paying from the free rebels. As each finishes medical appointments, they could apply to sit whether free or fee. This is fair like in law college. All students could have short, intensive, organized, support group classes by those who like to teach, gaining knowledge in areas they are deficient in. The Deans in SLMC are the best supervisers and monitors, as they already have the infrastructure. All lives are valuable.

    • 1
      1

      Sammy @

      “So, non of the students who are currently in the SAITM are not allowed to treat me even they are allowed to practice”

      Double negative make one positive – meaning according to your comment – they are allowed.

      Anyways, so long the student ‘s entrance qualifications are fulfiled, those students are not to be blamed, but to have got misled by not having informed them the students well about the approval or non-approval of SLMC at the time they were taken to the PVT college is beyond all ethics and morals.
      So who to be blamed ? If not former men that paved the way these students to end up with all anxities by today ?

      If Meeharaka Rajapakshe led anything, it ended up half filled
      a)Mattala Airport
      b)Hambantota Harbor
      c)Saitm pvt college
      d)Nelumpokuna theatre
      e) Hambantota conference hall and all other road and consturction work that created all miseries by today

  • 1
    1

    I put the entire blame for creating this problem centered on SAITM on the parents and students who enrolled to follow Medical Studies. If they acted intelligently and cautiously before enrolling with an Institution that had not complied with the requirements, it would have been compelled to do so and establish as a properly constituted body to offer medical studies. This unintelligent and brainless actions on the part of the people have even led to the electing wrong persons to the Legislature. That was what I tried to explain in my earlier comment edited out by CT for violating the comment policy. I regret it and apologize.

    • 1
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      Don’t get on the blame game wagon. Offer some positive solutions for all parties who are flawed in some degree or another like your arrogant mindset. Apart from recognizing the need for more higher education institutes free or fee, to cater to needs of the student population which is annually growing, there is a need to streamline what already exists in all fear and insecurity. There is a huge school population waiting in the ranks. Stop blaming and start providing facilities and opportunities for this nation to get out of the pit it has fallen into, with successive govts. without visionary capacity for expansion for growing needs. More parents and students want education. Provide it. Dr. Neville Fernando aspired to a great job causing outpouring of obstructive jealousy unprecedented in the earth. Standard game. Medics have to do that all their lives.

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      Doughlas,

      you should be a number 1 joker. No students and their parents to be blamed fully as you do here… it is beyond all bearing..

      like for example, if milk power imported from NZ would have been introduced to lanken grass eating folks calling them as ” imported from the US” people that love US products would go after them and buy them.

      There according to you, people to be blamed right ? But according me and any simple simons with little knowledge woudl see it the failure lies on the side that introduced them.

      Likewise Mr, at the time, SAITM was introduced, they should have focused on the issue that comes on the top of the guidelines – which is how would be the recognition of the degree- being awarded by the pvt instituttion right ? why they put the larger advertson the widely circulating news papers misleading own people ?

      I think media men should also be blamed on this for misleading the people. Since Rajaakshe never thought beyond some levels, whatever they started with lack of proper lknowledge created new problems. They are proved opportunists……. clear to anyone by today.

      It ishould be the focus of the authorities of both PVT college and govt. This time of college is new to the country, and then the state should have focused on the side of degree awardees than the opposite, if they were whole hearted on the students as they preach today.
      What is clear to even fools today, former Prez and the men made PVT college possible, thought only their advantages – money grabs by every means. Rajapakshe to allow the PVT college bank loans worth ranging to 500 billions and other facilities clear their aims very well.

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    Now the SAITM issue has become a political mayhem.

    In short, there are a few steps to be taken to solve this issue.
    1. Establish a regulatory body for all state and private universities and this body ( a qualification authority) should assess all exams and quality assurance. This authority must clearly provide guidelines to maintain the highest quality of all private and state university education.

    2. Provide equal opportunities for all students to develop their clinical experience up to the expected level of standard which is essential to be a good medical professional.

    3. All students, graduated from private medical colleges (local and foreign) must complete ACT 16 exams before awarding practicing certificate.

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      Act 16 now called ERPM is a minimum 2 year period conducted by SLMC for foreign qualified MBBS to get used to local conditions, community health, forensic work among other clinical exams. Local private graduates have already trained in most of these and it is unfair to expect them to spend another 2 years repeating subjects, adding to their already prolonged 7 year period. Any further exams. for private locals, must be of a much shorter duration which is easily possible. Pass rate in this exam is low and hence have to add a few more years, whereas almost everybody is passed out of state meds.MBBS making room for the push from below. Very few can stagnate unlike in ERPM.

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    Medic: Thanks. Now I regret for not being “arrogant”, when my closest relative discussed his intention to enroll the child with this SAITM to follow Medical Studies to make that child a “Doctor”. I requested that parent to see through the advertised prospectus and make a well informed and matured decision; but he was merely dreaming that child becoming a “Doctor”. Today, he has informed me of his failure and I feel very sorry for the plight that parent faced with. I argued this matter in very lengthy detail and my comment violated the comment policy and got edited out. Please refer to one statement the writer of this article viz.”…SAITM on their part continuously disregarded the guidelines issued by the regulatory bodies” You have asked me for a solution. Here it is: Make all these Educational Institutions properly regulated by a “Charter”( an Act of Parliament) with strict adherent to Management, Standards and subjected to compliance and investigative mechanisms. There could be many more SAITM and that could be another way to solve the education problem faced by the student population; but that does not mean it must be a “Marketable Product” for “PROFIT”. If that was done from the begging, this problem would not have arisen.

    desperate sinhalaya: I prefer to be a “joker No.1” in your assessment.; because it is rather futile to pour water on a duck’s back. Anyway thank you for reading my comment.

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    Rajarata medical school has as its “Head of Toxicology” a man who has recent raw graduated from Kelaniya University and who has claimed that the Toxins causing the Kidney disease in Rajarata have been revealed by God Natha to be Arsenic and Glyphosate (a herbicide that was declared to be very safe even as recently as May 16th 2016 when questions were raised about its safety) ! Analytical work has shown that both glyphosate and arsenic are not found (i.e., found in quantities at the limit of detection, viz., parts per billion). The man has spend more time electioneering and lobby. The “toxicologist” and Ven Rathana (who just sold his MP-duty car illegally for 33,000,000 rupees are close buddies and run a “Toxin-free nation” political praogram.
    And yet, the medical degrees from such sham faculties are considered OK, but nit SAITAM.

    Also, every week we hear of irregularities and cased-based operations and other unbelievable things at Jaffna University where academic standards are ignored and it has become an ideological hell hole of orthodox fundamentalist Hinduism and pro-LTTE fervour.
    They all can grant degrees and the GMOA is OK with it!
    Utter hypocracy; may be that is what they thin is the hippocratic oath

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    The quality of all the Sri Lankan Medical faculties must be checked by foreign expert panel. Not the SLMC. Then you will see problem not with SAITEM it is with public Universities medical faculties. Fake professorships, bad governance, Heads and Deans are the most junior and least qualified people and catchers of VCs. The current University system is a hell of corruption and bad governance. Seniority never respected in the system. VCs are the responsible for this disaster. See University act. It says VC can appoint anybody for Head position. Not even in hell such rule does exist.

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      Up to now SLMC has been the monitoring body like in the rest of the world, but it has got so biased and corrupt under pressure and bondage from TU GMOA that there is no other structure available to get justice from except the law courts. If the law is upheld in Sri Lanka, and it is virtually impossible to reverse the verdict on the SLMC. If the ERPM of SLMC is carried out vindictively, SAITM can come back to the law.

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    GMOA s clout as a trade union will not last long. Medical robots are now practicing in USA. Robots can diagnose faster and more accurately. Let us be patient. Till then let us send our excess medical students to India where they have 3000 medical colleges. Also Srilakan entrepreneurs can establish medical colleges in India. Government can give scholarships to those who cannot afford to study in India up to an amount the Govt. would have spent on them if they entered the Medical colleges in Srilanka.

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    Anti SAITAM mostly political and personal. While formerly pro SAITAM MR is fishing in troubled waters GMOA is trying to safe guard their domain. I challenge GMOA to stop private practice on days they withdraw their labor from Govt. Hospitals.

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      GOMA striking is to rest so they could do pp through the night and rest again the next day. Its a money game involving job agencies sending out and SLMC ERPM examiners collecting fees after they come back. It takes a while to see the full scenario. Now politics is using this street dance but will meet their waterloo.
      SAITM has no major issue except to complete internship in Health Ministry hospitals which GOMA thinks they own. The major issue is how GOMA came to own govt. hospitals meant for all citizens, and how they came to be dictators in them. Worth asking the judiciary who really owns and authorize govt. hospitals specially with regard to internship appointments. What is the role of the PSC, Ministry, Directorate, TU SLMC statutory body became a joke, enforcing SAITM illegally, while rebelling against legal verdict. MAD

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    Nobody wants doctors without approval of the medical council of the country where they are being trained. Saitm also do not want to produce doctors without SLMC approval. That is why they applied for SLMC approval. Saitm has no reason to be rejected by the SLMC and SLMC has two standerds , one for saitm one for KDU. This is the issue. SLMC maliciously refuse saitm students to be registered. The courts or anybody did not force SLMC to register unqualified doctors. The courts order them to register surly qualified saitm graduates as there is no reason to refuse them from registration. People misinterpret this issue to take political advantage and maintain monopoly of medica mafia.

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