3 December, 2020

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SAITM & Private Medical Schools: One Bad Start Should Not Lead To Throwing Away A Good Idea

By W. A Wijewardena

Dr. W.A Wijewardena

Opposition to SAITM

SAITM, the abbreviation for Sri Lanka’s newest private university, South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine, has been denoting a derogatory meaning in Sri Lankans’ present local vocabulary.

It is a private initiative, done at private costs, to offer a solution to one of Sri Lanka’s chronic problems relating to medical education. That problem is the failure of the Government to meet the aspirations of all students seeking to continue for a medical degree at a State university.

Normally, when the private sector offers a solution for such a chronic issue, it should be appreciated, recognised and upheld. Yet, a large section of society has chosen to reject it. Criticisms have been levelled at it as a ‘private sector degree shop’ that produces low quality graduates, specifically, in medicine.

Undergraduates in medical faculties of State sector universities in Sri Lanka have been up in arms against SAITM right from the very beginning. They have been supported, by word, deed and big brotherly protection, by the powerful Government Medical Officers’ Association or GMOA, the trade union that holds monopoly power over the professionals who provide healthcare services to Sri Lankans through State sector healthcare facilities. Its website contains reports after reports calling it a ‘corrupt institution‘ or ‘illegal institution’ making its stand on SAITM clear to its membership as well as to fellow citizens.

A higher learning institution approved by BOI

According to GMOA, SAITM has cheated the Board of Investment or BOI, the Government and the community at large. It had got approval from BOI, says GMOA, to set up a higher learning outfit called South Asian Institute of Technology and Management.

In the original application to BOI, there had not been mention about its offering medical degrees in Sri Lanka. The only indication in that application had been that it would offer training courses in a number of areas including nursing and healthcare services. But later, it had, alleges GMOA, surreptitiously substituted Medicine for Management so that its abbreviation could stand as it is and started to recruit students for its medical degree programmes.

Offering a medical degree without approval by medical authorities

SAITM is silent on this allegation. But according to its website, it had got itself affiliated to a medical degree awarding academy in Russia called Nizhny Novgorod State Medical Academy or NNSMA, a medical college that had existed since around 1920 and is presently ranked at around seven among 46 odd Russian medical colleges. However, it is not in the list of global top medical schools. Thus, as far as the quality standards in Russia are concerned, NNSMA does not appear to have any shortcoming as a medical degree awarding higher learning institution in that country.

According to the website of Sri Lanka Medical Council or SLMC, its current list of recognised foreign universities does not include NNSMA. But a letter purported to have been issued by its Secretary in 2009 and reproduced in a report filed by GMOA has confirmed that the six-year medical degree leading to the award of Doctor of Medicine by NNSMA had been a recognised medical qualification at that time.

It appears that this approval has now been withdrawn so that itsmedical graduates cannot practice as medical professionals in Sri Lanka. This applies to both the medical graduates proper from NNSMA and those who would pass out through the hybrid facility at SAITM.

Thus, the first mistake done by SAITM has been that it had got itself affiliated to a foreign medical college which is yet to receive the nod of SLMC. Hence, the students joining SAITM for medical degrees were exposed to the risk of not being approved by SLMC even if they would get their medical degree after following one year’s study programme in the final year at NNSMA.

SLMC has no power to recognise a local private medical school

Apparently in order to overcome this problem and bypass SLMC, SAITM has got the approval from the Ministry of Higher Education at a later stage as an institution that can award medical degrees in Sri Lanka. Accordingly, SAITM can now award its own medical degree without having to get its students to follow a prescribed course at NNSMA.

Though SAITM is a local approved university, SLMC has no business of approving its medical degrees since it has not been established under the Higher Education Act of 1966. But according to statutes, all medical graduates have to sit for a common eligibility examination and SLMC was required to allow SAITM graduates too to sit for this examination along with State university medical graduates and those passing out from the fee-levying medical school run by Kothalawala Defence University or KDU, a higher learning institution functioning under the Ministry of Defence rather than under the Ministry of Higher Education.

SLMC, after examining the clinical training facilities available to SAITM students, has refused to register those graduates as qualified medical practitioners in Sri Lanka claiming that their clinical training is below the required standards. It would be interesting to see whether SLMC would apply the same yardstick to medical graduates passing out from KDU since it is also not a university established under the Higher Education Act of 1966.

GMOA is opposed to SAITM but not to KDU

There have been a lot of protests by medical students in State universities against SAITM functioning as a medical college right from the very beginning. GMOA says in its website referred to above that at the time SAITM started its medical education, it did not raise its voice loud enough to protest against what they have termed as an ‘illegal institution’. It has regretfully admitted that not making its voice against SAITM at that initial stage was to its ‘disadvantage’.

But this was to change, according to the website, after its current President, Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya, returned to Sri Lanka after overseas training to assume its leadership once again. According to GMOA, it was Dr. Padeniya who had pressurised this otherwise militant trade union ‘to take a clear stand on the issue’. What it means is that had it not been for Dr. Padeniya, GMOA would have accepted SAITM as a recognised medical college just like it had accepted the medical college run by KDU. Curiously, the website of GMOA does not bear any evidence that it had protested against that medical college at all.

Thus, allowing a single person to pressurise the membership to protest against SAITM poses serious issues relating to the governance structure of one of the prestigious associations made up of top professionals in the country.

GMOA’s inquiry into SAITM

However, GMOA had commissioned an inquiry in 2010 under the chairmanship of its President, Dr. Padeniya, into the medical degrees being awarded by what was known at that time as the Private Medical College at Malabe. This report, which could be called the Padeniya Report, is available in the website of GMOA for reference by the public.

According to the correspondence between SAITM’s founder Dr. Neville Fernando and SLMC and between BOI and SLMC as reproduced in the Padeniya Report, SAITM had been called at that time in its original name, namely, South Asian Institute of Technology and Management. Thus, its transformation into South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine would have taken place much later as a marketing device.

SLMC has written to Dr. Neville Fernando in 2009 that though it had recognised the six-year medical degree being awarded by NNSMA for registration of practitioners in Sri Lanka, it has no powers to recognise any degree being awarded by an institution not set up under the Higher Education Act of 1966.

What this means is that, since the Private Medical College had not been set up under this legislation, its degrees cannot be approved by SLMC. Thus, the management of the Private Medical College at Malabe had known as far back as 2009 that its graduates cannot register themselves in Sri Lanka as medical practitioners under the existing laws. Yet, this information had not been conveyed to parents or students who had chosen it to pursue medical studies. To the contrary, it had misinformed them that the particular college is being supervised by SLMC, prompting the latter to issue a public denial.

SAITM is not approved to run a medical school

The correspondence between BOI and SLMC in 2010 has revealed that SAITM had been a BOI-approved private venture and allowed to conduct training courses, and not degree courses, in management, nursing, languages, vocational studies, health science and technology areas. BOI had confirmed that the original application had not asked for permission to run a medical school; nor had it indicated that it was affiliated to NNSMA which is a later development.

It further reveals that BOI had granted approval to SAITM in 2008 without referring it to any Sri Lankan authority involved in the subject matter or verifying whether SAITM had got approval from such authorities. Thus, it appears that as far as BOI had been concerned it was another private business venture which should seek out its market as well as its success through its business operations.

Padeniya Report is critical of SAITM

The Padeniya Report had not been kind to the private medical college at Malabe. It had criticised the college from many viewpoints, some relevant and most others irrelevant.

The relevant criticisms had been based on the irregularities surrounding the establishment of the Private Medical College at Malabe. It was a training institution authorised to conduct training programmes in management and not in medicine. Thus, its entry into medical field had been an irregularity, according to Padeniya Report.

It had not got approval from University Grants Commission or UGC to run a medical school in 2010. Its claimed-affiliation with NNSMA was suspicious since that had not been presented to BOI for approval and nor had it been established that Russian authorities had approved it. Thus, the Padeniya Report had concluded that SAITM had misled both parents and students; cheating them in this manner, the Padeniya Reportclaims, amounts to a financial fraud.

Some criticisms are irrelevant

However, most of the other criticisms levelled against the private medical college at Malabe in the Padeniya Report are irrelevant.

Based on the presumption that these graduates are of inferior quality, the report had claimed that the medical graduates passing out from this college would erode the reputation of Sri Lanka’s medical practitioners. It is indeed too much to say that a few graduates could do such damage to a profession which, according to the Padeniya Report, is of high standards and quality.

In a similar tone, the Padeniya Report had expressed the fear that those medical graduates could cause Sri Lanka’s high healthcare indices to fall over time. That is also a presumptuous claim.

They could also do much harm, says the Padeniya Report, to Sri Lanka’s plan to set up a knowledge hub, an avowed goal of the previous as well as the present Government. In fact, if SAITM is a success, it would definitely help Sri Lanka to build its reputation as a knowledge hub.

The Padeniya Report also charges SAITM for derailing Sri Lanka’s attempt at promoting medical tourism in the country. That again is too much to claim. The success of Sri Lanka as a medical tourism destination will depend on the quality of services provided by both the State and private healthcare facilities.

The issue was highlighted by this writer in a previous article in this series that Sri Lanka’s private healthcare service providers should benchmark their service to best global practices. This proposition in this article applies to state sector healthcare providers as well.

SAITM’s other operations are also at stake

The opposition to SAITM by a section of university students, GMOA and some political parties has been based exclusively on its involvement in medical education. In addition, SAITM is involved in offering both management and engineering degrees with affiliation with two foreign universities.

Its management degrees are awarded by UK’s Bucks New University. This university has a long history dating back to 1891 when it was started as School of Science and Arts. But, it was elevated to university status only in 2007 and therefore is yet to establish its reputation. Being a new university, it is not ranked very high among British universities today; in fact it is ranked close to the last few British universities on the league table. It is still not ranked globally by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings but it could happen in the days to come.

Its engineering degrees are awarded by Thailand based Asian Institute of Technology or AIT which is a reputed university in that subject area; students in engineering complete the first two years at SAITM and the last two years at AIT. About 200 SAITM students graduate in engineering subjects from AIT per annum. Almost all of them are immediately absorbed by many Thai and international companies operating in Thailand, a fact that testifies to the quality of these graduates. However, since AIT has stopped its undergraduate courses from 2017, SAITM will have to affiliate itself with another university to allow its engineering students to complete their degrees in the future.

These are real issues which SAITM is facing as a private sector-sponsored higher learning institution in the country.

One bad start should not lead to throwing away a good idea

Private sector-sponsored universities are a must in Sri Lanka given its current level of economic development and fiscal issues its Government is facing. However, SAITM has given a bad start to this initiative. It has been set up without proper planning, without proper authority and without proper management at the top. Such approval had been obtained after it had admitted students and even then, that approval has not been complete.

It has funding for both capital and running expenditure and is being supported by top politicians of the country. That alone is not sufficient for it to make its mark as a prestigious private university in the country. As a result, it is the private sector higher education initiative which has now suffered. It is inevitable that this black name would be adduced to other private initiatives that are planningto enter the field today.

Absorption by the State is not the solution

Some are suggesting that SAITM should be taken over by the State. That would complicate the problem since it would add an additional burden to the already-constrained State coffers.

Instead, what the authorities should do now is to force SAITM to upgrade its standards in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Health, SLMC and the warring trade union, GMOA. As it is, the fate of the students presently following medical degrees at SAITM is at stake. Resorting to legal channels as had been done by present students is not an option since SLMC is reported to have planned to appeal to Supreme Court against the judgment delivered by the Court of Appeal recently directing it to register SAITM graduates for medical practice in Sri Lanka.

SLMC does not have powers at present to recognise these graduates, but Parliament could give it powers by approving the Gazette already issued by SLMC long ago in this regard. An early resolution is crucial in the interest of the students already following its medical courses. It would be a national tragedy if they are to lose both their money and hope.

One bad example does not mean Sri Lanka should throw away private sector-based higher education. It has to go for that, but before doing so, it is necessary to establish independent authorities to assure the quality and standards of all universities in the country, both State and private sector sponsored.

Hence, it is a time when wisdom, patience and understanding are needed by all, specifically by those in the medical profession like the GMOA.

*W.A. Wijewardena, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, can be reached at waw1949@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Sri lankan govt, with public resources alone can not handle University education. Therefore, private Universities are needed. govt politicians at that time and the SAITM management should be prosecuted by the gradutates who studied their in the university for FRauds. If Sri lanka has Class action LAw suits, it should be class action. If there are no Laws, it should be established. that Management should be banned here after engaging in business in Sri lanka. NOne of those should be allowed in such practices.

    Sri lanka has a second tier of doctors who are called AMPs. Sri lanka also has doctors who got medical degree from many other countries and they are functioning as physicians. Because, of that, these undergraduates should be retrained by azllowing them to work as interns perhaps for longer periods.

    • 4
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      Thanks for a clear exposition of the issues Dr. Wije. and indeed all the points made here are valid.

      Sri Lanka desperately needs GOOD private universities because the state universities are the pits, with cronyism and nepotism rife in the faculties, and practically no quality research done by any of the so called academics in these so called universities.

      Majority of those who teach in state universities and study in them are unqualified. State universities desperately need reform and capital injection and minimum standards in hiring faculty and staff.

      • 5
        1

        GMOA members are holding the govt to ransom and look at the privileges given to them by the poor tax payers.

        1 free education from year 1 to year 13
        2 free medical education for another 5 years to obtain MBBS degree
        3 govt funded overseas training for specialization
        4 free housing when posted outstation
        5 opportunity to do private practice whilst being a govt servant
        6 duty free car permits
        7 opportunity to admit children to popular govt schools in Colombo
        8 opportunity to consult patients even during lunch time.

        GMOA members will prevent anyone being a threat to their dominance and hence the opposition to SAITM.

        How come they have allowed KDU and some other medical faculties in Batticaloa and Anuradhapura to function without basic requirements?

        We have had enough of GMOA and time to act!!

        Hope the yahapalanaya govt has the courage to taken on GMOA and given a opportunity to 100s of students to pursue their dreams.

    • 4
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      Many vindictive comments undermine any good suggested. In any clinical group receiving the same training by a Consultant, what each receives is very variable as some pass and some fail. Try standardizing that. I agree with above on the issue of a 2 year of internship covering major fields of Medicine, Surgery, Paediatrics and Obs/Gynae, for these already harassed doctors to serve this nation. Medicine is continuing lifelong education only partially quantifiable. Padeniya wants to be eternal prez. of GMOA, deceived into dreaming about Prez. of Govt.

    • 4
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      It is just simple- if the responsible authorities would make every efforts all the medical students to be assessed by a central exam which is similar to all state and pvt colleges, quality and the standard of the degree can be guranteered.

      This the grass eating Rajaakshes could not grasp at the beginning with the introduction of the PMC-SAITEM made it and issue.

      If the exams are the same to everyone, how you study for the degree will not matter.

      Besides, why the bugger et al- joined hand with Russians, why not with UK or US universities whose medical degrees are considered as the best inthe world.

      These men – lack of their information and not having done any kind of feasiblity prior to the going for introducing the kind of colleges, have misguided the students.

      If the entry qualifications for the colleges held strict, if the assessments tests are common to all students, where is the problem ?
      There are at least few more hundreds every year qualify as students that are eligible to study Medicine in and out of the country.
      Most of them get no chances just because the state faculties cant provide them with a placement – due to lack of funds and faculties.
      Jealoucy and Malacy have been above everything in this country… with some idotic men being appointed as GMOA or SLMC …. they stand on their way of the youth s future.

      WHo will priviledge if more medical doctors would have been produced… the people of this country will be blessed with all the luck… why these idiots cant get this is the real problem.

      • 1
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        Russians were chosen, because former Mafia king and his cousin had close relationship with the russians… than anyone else. No matter the quality levels of the degree being awarded by SAITEM, they the born smugglers only focus on their sums.
        What have MR et al done with the sums collected by various means ? If the current govt would find them sooner than later, ecconomy of the country would have been uplifted easily. As premier revealed it yesterday, we are all tightened with unbearable size of debts. Being that the reality, Meeharaka had been honeymooning until 2014.

  • 5
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    Dr. W.A Wijewardena

    RE: SAITM & Private Medical Schools: One Bad Start Should Not Lead To Throwing Away A Good Idea

    1. “It is a private initiative, done at private costs, to offer a solution to one of Sri Lanka’s chronic problems relating to medical education. That problem is the failure of the Government to meet the aspirations of all students seeking to continue for a medical degree at a State university.”

    2. “Criticisms have been levelled at it as a ‘private sector degree shop’ that produces low quality graduates, specifically, in medicine.’

    3. “Undergraduates in medical faculties of State sector universities in Sri Lanka have been up in arms against SAITM right from the very beginning. They have been supported, by word, deed and big brotherly protection, by the powerful Government Medical Officers’ Association or GMOA, the trade union that holds monopoly power over the professionals who provide healthcare services to Sri Lankans through State sector healthcare facilities.”

    It’s about a Monopoly being broken up. It is Tribalism and Castism. Over the past 68 years under the watchful eye of GMOA, the Diabetes rate has gone up, with 16% of Sri Lankans being diabetic, and close to 50% being pre-diabetic Does this mean that GMOA qualities are quite poor? The Ayurveda doctors, Veda Mahhattayas, could have performed better.

    Democratic Socialism does NOT mean that there is no free enterprise.

    Competition will make participants to aspire to be the best. However, thre are several issues here.

    1. The qualifications needed to enter SAITM, the Intelligence and IQ, and therefore the quality of the graduates when they graduate. Are the patients going to be at risk?

    2. Are the qualifications, Intelligence and IQ needed to enter SAITM under the current standards, similar, above or below that needed to enter the state medical colleges?

    3. Is there any ranking of medical school entrants and graduates based on Intelligence and IQ tests beyond the subject tests?

    4. Of those qualified and selected to pursue the SAITM, what fraction cannot afford to pay the costs, and is thrre a mechanism for such students to take on loans at attractive interest rates? Are the costs of loan repayment terms and the earnings capacity in congruence?

    • 0
      4

      Idiot Amarasiri:

      You write the same crap over and over again.

      Read about something called EQ (emotional quotient).

      As you say, if IQ is the only deciding factor, people come out universities which charge lot of money (in other words, only the wealthy can attned) and only the very bright are admitted should be the most successful in the world. But, the reality is not so.

      • 3
        0

        jim softy

        “Democratic Socialism does NOT mean that there is no free enterprise.”

        “Competition will make participants to aspire to be the best.”

        Is you IQ close to 79, or a few standard deviations below that?

        Do you have a comprehension problem in addition to your IQ problem? Amarasiri said IQ should be one of the factors, along with proficiency in the subject matters, because they shoyld have the capacity to learn new materials during their carriers, which requires IQs.

        Give the choice, Amarsiri would always go to high IQ doctor as opposed to a low IQ doctors, provided that the doctor is not a cronie of the Rajapaksas. Then all bets are off.

  • 4
    3

    Mr. Wijewardena: Did you see the TV debate titled “Aluth Parlimentuwa”? In that debate a Medical Doctor presently serving in SLMC, produced the very first brochure put out by the SAITM announcing the enrollment of students, in that, it was very clearly stated that it had received approval from the SLMC. A copy of this was also produced by the University Student Union representative, one Lahiru and a close up of it was shown to the viewers. There were two representatives, one on behalf of SAITM and another, a Professor who appeared on behalf of the students. Incidentally, one of his sons is a student of SAITM. Not a single of these two contested that “Announcement” in the SAITM brochure. I bought this fact to your attention, because you have failed to put your hands on this very “Fraudulent Public Announcement” put out bt SAITM. Unfortunately the debate was not directed properly to elicit the truth of this matter, but continued on other matters. Then again you have missed another very important matter. At this TV debate, again the Doctor sitting there, a present member of the SLMC produced some public notices put out by the SLMC requesting the prospective students not to enroll with SAITM as it is not approved by the SLMC. If I remember correct, it was sated that this notice to Public was put out nine times. Again, the debate was not directed to examine this matter in a questionable manner to get an explanation from the two representative from SAITM. In my opinion, SLMC should have got this SAITM charged for misleading the students and committing a “Fraud”. If “Sakviti Mudalali” can be put behind bars, why not SAITM owners be sent to jail for “Misleading” students and charging fees for studies not properly approved for Medical Studies” by the relevant authorities in Sri Lanka, in this particular case the SLMC and not the UGC. It is definitely a huge FRAUD.

    You favor the Privatization of Medical Studies and offer varying reasons for doing so. If above (SAITM) is the living example of this “Privatization Business” of such an important limb of education, the answer is very clear NO. I tend to agree with the GMOA reasoning on that subject. The Health Services of a country is a matter in the hands of the Peoples’ Government and it is duty bound to provide that service through “Skilled”, “Experienced” and “Competent” personnel. How do the Government get such people is a matter of Public Importance. To do that the Government must evaluate the personnel requirements and provide required studies, training, skill development etc. and build the infrastructure necessary to provide the services. Your reasoning to say:”if the Government cannot provide the required numbers, why not allow the Private Sector to do it”. NO. It does not work in Sri Lanka and it is not working in many of the developed countries such as UK. Mind you this is not a “Playing Field” to test the strengths of the muscles but an area where “Qualitative” measurements are not compromised. That requires the Government of the People to be “Responsible” and “Accountable”.

    • 0
      0

      Truth is stranger than fiction. That early brochure was due to a letter from an earlier SLMC President Prof. Lalitha Mendis who ironed out difficulties advising a local MBBS which says that Act 16 ERPM exam would then not be necessary. Minister of Health tabled that letter in Parliament last week in answering a question by Wimal Weerawansa MP The current President should have continued trying to help with teething problems rather than shut the door because of accusatory political ideology. SLMC could have approved present standard like for KDU/some state, with recommendations for further improvement and not vindictively publish. Malicious intent (Mala Fides) was considered in court verdict. Only one standard for patient care, free state or fee private. So examine Rajarata and Eastern too

  • 6
    0

    Same way check what is happening inside local public University system. Why you are silent on that?: You need to sack all fake profs and follow international criteria to appoint them: In order to be a real international professor your PhD from world top 100 University, minimum 20 articles in ISI/SCOPUS indexed journals, 10 text books with international publishers and three countries have to appoint you as a Visiting professor. But all these Sri Lankan Professors are jokers and more than 40% University Lecturers are relatives to each others and they give degrees to each other (Husband gives PhD to wife and girlfriend/mistress getting PG degree, sons, daughter and son-in law and daughter- in-law). MY3 clean University system and sack fake professors and University mafia system. Some Dept are family trees. Colombo University Arts faculty Economics Dept is a good example. We well know how they recruits and promoted in University Mafia. First find a person and then advertise according to his/her requirement and send aboard for their friends’ places for PhDs. Go beyond Sri Lankan airport and see International job market. Even in Middle East job market, without PhD from accredited Western University you cannot become even Assistant Lecturer. But in Sri Lanka more than 80% professors do not have PhD. The countries they (University teachers) go to do higher studies, no person is going to studies: China, Malaysia, Thailand and India now many are doing PhDs locally in their own work places or under friends and lovers. See Colombo University Economics Dept all the recruitment done in outdoor connections and son and his friends also got as lecturers. Even PhD applications outright they rejected at Dept level and only interview called for friends. This happen in all Universities.

  • 0
    0

    We should learn from this bad start not to make draconian decisions.Decisions that would impact on the greater population and their thinking . May be this venture was looked at more a viable commercial enterprise , but our people do not like to rock the boat of Free Education and the seemingly egalitarian ideals behind it .We could apply the same caution when embarking on projects that dislocate people and rob them of the precious land and water resources . Consultation and debate with a will to listen and even flip back if needed without undue commitment to foreign institutions or Governments would be the way to go ..after all we may be 3rd World on the GDP criteria and free education we can read and listen and learn and be our own investigative person if the leaders do not interfere with our thinking to stay in power .In lighter vein on the ability and the manner of our youth I was so proud when Guneratna chose not to converse at length in English with the Aussie TV person after his spectacular innings at T 20 .but did it his way .scored the highest and was the man of the match ..

  • 8
    0

    The GMOA is trying to throw the baby along with the bat water so that it has a strangle hold on the state as the most powerful Trade Union that can pose the greatest challenge to the government.But we the people must desist this atrocious gang of thugs with stetescopes hanging from their dam necks since their power is derived by holding we the people to ransom.Who is worst affected when these thugs strike? It is the poor suffering man woman and child who simply does not have the money to go to a private hospital.The rich folks simply don’t care because they have the ability to go to Singapore even for a simple cough.And yet these criminals say that they are ddstriking to defend the rights of the ordinary people. It is simply an outrageous claim; one meant to retain there strangle hold of power.

    The GMOA gang is aware that if private medical education flourished it would be the death knell to their power.They don’t care when our students go to third grade universities in countries such as Nepal , Bangladesh and certain Central Aisian countries for medical studies , because these students don’t pose any there at to their power.They were shit scared to protest when the KDU, placed in the identical situation of SAITM , began awarding medical degrees, because Padeniya and his fellow thugs would have been “white Vanned” by the Rajapaksas. Sensing the freedom under the Yahapalan government they now make life a hell to the poor.

    As Dr, Wijewardena correctly suggest 1) It would be a crime to let an institution that is is purported to have a made wrong start to go to seed.It must be made to fulfill the requirements that the medical college requires its students to fulfill.This should have the support of the government since millions of dollars spent on sending our children abroad can be saved .2) Such a step would ensure a high level of uniformity in terms of Sri Lankan standards and the people would be the ultimate beneficiaries,3)Privatizing SAITM is no answer since as Dr, W makes clear it would only add to depleting already scarce resources of the state.Such a step would only increase the murderous stranglehold of the GMOA.3) More private medical colleges should be established , of course adhering to one single Sri Lankan standard.4)At the moment the state run medical college is like the rice ration book of old which was made use of to draw rice from the Cooperative Stores by both poor and yes RICH alike.5)Having private medical colleges would enable more poor students to enter Medical college while the rich student enters the a private colleges without been a burden on meagre state resources .6)Above everything else private medical would diminish greatly the murderous GMOA’s powers of holding the poor man woman and child to ransom.

  • 5
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    We have private education in all other spheres. Why not in medicine. SLMCs double standards are seen when it approved KDU medical college on a two page report even without hospital facilities. This has been politicized. We cannot allow the GMOA to use it bargaining power to mislead people. The entire world is going for private enterprise. Why no us.
    How about the medical degrees offered by other countries where we send our students. Will the GMOA get reports on their suitability. It should not be like KDU report.

  • 1
    3

    SAITEM is a Fraud says GMOA and IUSF. You accepted that in this writing. How could we ask the government to accept it now? It is very clear that those who have sent their children to this place are also (the politicians and other powerfull people) participated this fraud as they were well informed that this institution did not have a clear legal approval and the training to get into the medical procession. All those involved in this Fraud should be brought to the courts including so called political leaders who backed it then.

    Anyway the solution to this SAITAM isssue lies in the proposal submitted by the Dean’s of Medical Faculties.

    Don’t mixup SAITAM with establishment of Private Universities. You cannot find a way out for that issue if you bring this Fraud into the scene.If the government cannot open up new new Universities/Medical Faculties ask me he government to publish a white paper on the issue explaining the basic framework to guarantee the standards of those higher educational institutions. Country like Sri Lanka which had achieved highest level in the human development index because of its system of free education and healthcare cannot accept education and heath care as marketable commodities as accepted in the 1st world. If the private sector wanted to provide funding to higher education invite them to do it as Nonprofit institutions if they are rally interested in promoting higher education.

  • 9
    0

    The SAITM issue has brought forth an important debate on private medical education in this country. However this has created much heat than light at present. This issue has been extensively politicized.

    Medical students, GMOA and the Medical Faculty administrators are all working according to various political/individual agendas. These are not connected to the needs of the medical community or the general public. The need of the hour is for the Medical students, GMOA, Association of Medical Specialists and the Medical faculty teachers to form an action committee and work together towards a meaningful solution.

    The real power in the issue is with the medical students at present, this crisis was precipitated by medical student’s strike. They should realize the importance of their role at this juncture and avoid political influences by joining hands with the others in the medical profession.

    It is a good sign that the GMOA and medical teachers association has come to an agreement to work together in this issue. However, medical student also need to a part of this process, leaving them out will push them towards other political influences.

    Private medical education is a need in this country. The previous government and the present government are encouraging state funding of private education, this is indirectly promoting foreign universities (eg:NSBM).

    The quality of our state universities need to be improved. Measures to improve the quality of staff and to entice international experts and expatriates to come back and work in state universities for short stints need to be considered, this will improve the rating of our universities.

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      Dr “godwin constantine”,

      I’m just looking at the mess in Jaffna University as related by Mahesan Niranjan through analogy with frogs in a well. Why are people in the South just not commenting constructively on what’s going on there about the Biochemist from Boston not being called for an interview?

      Incidentally, Niranjan (himself a Professor of Computing) has a younger brother, Professor Mahesan Nirmalan of Manchester University who will be here next week. When Nirmalan comes to Sri Lanka for a fortnight, he usually visits every Medical Faculty in Sri Lanka and does a lecture in it, giving the medical students updates on what’s latest in his field. Next week I’m supposed to take him to a little school that he has never visited in which there are Sinhalese and Tamil students. Rajan Hoole and I were classmated there. A few years later Prof Mohan de Silva studied there. Niranjan will discuss with the students whatever most concerns them, and which he is in a position to talk about. He says that he’d better use mainly Sinhalese there.

      I know you, Dr Constantine, to be a decent man (with origins in Jaffna) whom I once had to see prior to being operated on for hernia in Asiri Surgical. For the operation itself my wife had managed to find some Insurance Cover, but when you realised that I was a poor man, you waived your fee. Ah, yes, I remember: Rahan Hoole’s “Fallen Palmyra” had just come out, and you didn’t know that it was available at Vijitha Yapa’s Bookshop.

      Why can’t the UGC Chairman, who is himself a fine surgeon, intervene in what’s happening in Jaffna? “Yahapalanaya” is disappointing us. Guys like me would like to see Jaffna University and all State Universities being well run.

      As for this debate on SAITM, it is much less important for us, but I respect your view that “Private medical education is a need in this country.” I know so little that about Medicine that I don’t want to jabber as some do! Yes, I’m right! “Jim softy” who appears to hate all Tamils has given his two cents worth at the very top of the comments here, and no doubt on the article specifically dealing with Jaffna University (I haven’t bothered to check) but I have commented on his attitudes here:

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-story-of-advising-a-tadpole/

      and actually challenged him here at 1:05 pm today:

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-profound-impact-of-caste-in-contemporary-sri-lanka/

      Some guys clearly specialise in fishing in troubled waters.

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      The quality of our state universities need to be improved.

      first improve the quality of politicians. make a criminal offence to influence politically.

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    A good insight. It is time Auditor General is detailed to check whether the accounts of all BOI approved training centers are as per agreements. You may find some surprises.

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    Can someone commence a private Law School too?
    Will the Bar Association and Judiciary allow?

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    Shanika: You have revealed yet another “MAFIA” operation in the education sector of this country. So goes with this SAITM. From the start i.e. registration as a BOI project, the involvement of the President downwards connecting all authorities brought about this “MAFIA” operation. No one, responsible and accountable for the education system, cared to make it a “Legitimate Child” and present it to the country as a “GIFT”. Today, the parents who spent millions, and left stranded have been compelled to seek assistance from the Judiciary and the President of the country. I have listened to some parents who lament without any assistance to sort out matters pertaining to the studies of their children. What a state of affairs and a dismal failure in all matters of Governance? Not only in the Education sector, but in all other matters the Government has no plan and no systematic way of putting into operation the way of administering and Governance. This whole system has got rotten to the core by this MAFIA type operations institutionalized by the VVIPs and Professionals and needs a complete change as otherwise the country will end up in ruins.

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    Dr Wijewaradana that politically line-up with Neo-Liberalism but he has to shifted new set of policies by learning lessons for his own reading of 2008 Wall Street Financials crisis NOT yet recovered by USA economy as well as world economy.

    He knows that very well all BAIL OUT OF BIG USA BANKS of Investments Banks (having even not more than US $ 50 dollars) AND MONOPOLY MULTI-NATIONL COMPANIES OF SUCH OUTFITS are BY USA Treasury funds and born by WORLD TAX PAYERES MONEY .

    The amounts of USA Debt bail out payment over US $ 10 Trillions dollars. US debt timely closed to US $ 60 trillion dollars ,but face values of Debt ceiling calling comes to US $ 18 Trillion Dollars .

    I will come to an issue of SATIM is black money born by Disprin Doctor of Dr Neville Fernando. Neville himself has not reached any post-Graduate Degree of Medicine which according to my knowledge and reliable sources says.

    He is almost an ideology of orthodox of UNP line of politics but change time to time depend on power game and changing of ruling parties since beginning of 1960tees.

    His enterpriser mind set for building New Private Medical collage is most lucrative business venture in Sri lanka. But get return out of profit need cannot achieve by over-night.

    We are living in the Modern world that New innovation of medical area has grown to which want build solid foundation accepts by international rules by Neville and Company has to BEFORE ESTABLISHED PRIVITE MEDICAL COLLEGE.

    The Neville has violated all rule and regulation of national and international for obtain Medical Degree.

    What happen of that Students has to spend huge amount of money is accountability of Neville and company.

    Now our politician are backward ,they now want blame go to Sri Lankan Medical Council, who are granting MBBS degree to without the rules of Standard of Medical Degree;
    1 Neville for lucrative Business for MBBS degree of that offering earn money.

    2 Political class in power want to having private medical degree
    without SLMC standards.

    3 Majority right thinking rational men and women want go through real
    standards of National and International obtain medial degree by
    accepts norms seek to save human life is majority priority.

    The Private Medical Collage is cannot justification by drain of Foreign Exchange of millions of Dollars from our Foreign assets said by SB Dissanayake and Rajith Senartahan of that incorrigible politician ,who are rule and ruin our national politics of democracy last 3 decades in UNP and SLFP’s.

    They want to earn(Neville & Politicians ) and save money by go beyond the criteria of standard of Degree of Medico laid by act of Parliament of Sri lanka.

    They(Rajith, SB and Kerella) are after money or Rupees and cents, their a moral of political-economy that NOT familiar with values of Human Life. These are New Lumpen Political classes was by products of UNP-JRJ 1977 Neo-Liberalist” Democracy”!

    Is Wijewrarda want to line up with businessmen+ politicians Degree without any standard or right think of rational stander of Medical Degree all fulfil norms accepts by world at large.

    What is a Good Idea of Mr Wijewrwdana?

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    Dear Sir

    Few suggestions for you to consider..

    1. You may want to also have a chapter on the issues of Z score – This will be the root cause of the issue. Now students from Ampara / Badulla / vanni with very low scores (1 C and 2 S’s and low English knowledge get selected to do Medicine at Colombo and other main GOSL medicine facility) – but do they fall out or do they become doctors..? we don not here of them falling out – so if a child who has a C and low English can become a doctor – passing the exams – a child who was in colombo with 3c and English should also be able to get through…. Actually, the Z score should be scrapped if we want improve doctors like in 30 years ago where merit in a national exam allowed students to be selected to medicine..

    2. Another chapter – should be covered the cost that GOSL bears for a 7 year course in Medicine (Which in any other country is the highest costing Uni degree) and where GOSL “Gurantees a Job”” – which is not done for any other profession (i.e engineers / accountants / lawyers) – so what has the country spent on the each and every GOSL medical faculty student….

    3. another para is – the new trend for medical students of GOSL faculties to come out get internship and do a Singapore / USA / Australia conversion exam and migrate to these countries? What is the opportunity cost to GOSL ? should we not financially bond the GOSL medical students for the cost spent and opportunity cost that if they migrate later, GOSL looses a position which could have been given to a more deserving student who would have stayed and done work for Sri Lanka? We should look at the immigration stats for doctors leaving SL and look to make sure at least they pay for the cost that was incurred for them.. and the slot they took of another in the faculty.

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    WHAT IS MR SAYING ABOUT THE ISSUE.IT IS HE WHO STARTED SAITM AND NOW RUNS AWAY TO SINGAPORE. MAY BE TO MT. ELIZABETH HOSPITAL LOOKING FOR A CURE AS HE IS SUFFERING FROM SITHMISISIS. HA HA HIHI YOU DOUBLE CROSSER. YOUR DOUBLE STANDARDS WILL NEVER WORK ANY MORE.

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    This writer analysed the SAITM from only one corner just criticizing only
    Padeniya report. I think this writer should have gone on analyzing SLMC reports
    too. SLMC appointed 10 consultants to inspect and make report on SAITM.
    He should have read and analyse that to establish right impression on the public.
    He is talking about 1966 act.what about Medical Ordinance?
    So, I feel this is only a one sided analysis.

    A Medic.

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    Be realistic. SAITM got an undeniable judicial verdict to complete internship training, in spite of an honest 10 member inspection report which was twisted by SLMC omitting recommendations and forwarding to ministries . SAITM corrected those areas. Court made aware of the double standards of SLMC on KDU and SAITM. Inefficient SLMC never had those mythical maximum standards and never took steps to get authorized for compliance certificates, but were full of vindictive venom, using the deans on the board to suggest closing SAITM. Why not ask SAITM to go back on any faulty documentation according to their accusations and correct them and get proper documentation, if the motive is to help. Integrity of this intellectual body called SLMC is questionable now exposing their various agendas, the court calling it violation of the medical ordinance. It stings.

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    Saitm students are in par with any other medical student in the world. They are well trained duly qualified medical graduates. This was accepted by the court of law. SLMC has violated the medical ordinance being exceeding the power given to them. It has two standards one to KDU, another one to SAITM. Political parties and medical mafia misinterpret and mislead public to get advantages for their existence. This is the truth.

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    The writer the so called doctor needs to get his facts right before publishing his article. As the Russian university mentioned by him is a well reputable university which is recognized by all through out the world. It is also in the WHO directory as well. All the graduates from the Russian university had passed the act16 and are working in Sri Lanka. Do not publish false facts if you don’t know it for sure. Because till now Sri lankans always judge the book by its cover and think they are the best in every thing they do. They try to compare their knowledge with all developed countries. But the funniest part is they always forget that Sri Lanka is STILL a THIRD WORLD COUNTRY in the world map.

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