12 December, 2017

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The Plight Of State University Medical Students – An Open Letter To The President

By Godwin Constantine

Dr. Godwin Constantine

Open letter

The Honourable President Mithripala Sirisena

President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Dear Mr. President,

The plight of state university medical students

I pen this letter with great regret as our state medical faculty students are on the streets without being heard for more than 7 months now. The majority of these students are from average Sri Lankan families. They have worked hard and entered the universities to study medicine with great expectations. There are so many parents who have sent their children to study medicine, enduring immense economic hardship with the hope of seeing them as doctors. Fair number of these students are form rural villages, they have reached this state through their shear dedication and hard work, with a single objective of becoming successful in their lives. Thus far our educational system has offered poor students from under privileged areas an opportunity to climb up the ladder of social hierarchy through a justifiable competitive system. 

I do not totally agree with the proposal put forwards by the Inter University Students’ Union to resolve the SAITM issue. However I do not disagree totally with the students on their stand as there are legitimate issues which need to be addressed at this stage or else the state medical faculty student’s future will be in jeopardy. There are many voices raised for and against SAITM. I do not intend to waste your time by delving into details of these issues. One pertinent issue that stands out from the very beginning is the undue favour shown by various persons in power towards SITM. The most recent being the “handing over” (Taking over) of Neville Fernando Hospital to the government, a move which will easily offset the economic benefit the country stands to achieve by establishing private medical college. 

At present the private medical education initiatives that have been created in this country has given rise to an uneven playing field which has placed the state medical faculty students at a disadvantageous position. These students who have passed so many hurdles only to be sidelined in their career prospects (due to inherent delay in the national education system) by a privileged group of students are unreasonable. Properly planned and properly regulated private medical education can create a healthy balance of competition and advancement in medical education in this country.  Unplanned and poorly regulated private medical education will make medical education a commodity and destroy the integrity of medical education in this country.

State medical faulty students are an important party in this conflict. Any meaningful solution to this conflict can only be achieved by including theses students in the process of discussion. These students at times have over stepped the limit of tolerance during their protest activities due to political influences or youthful adventurism. However, it is expected of the greatness of your “government of good governance” to look beyond these incidences and provide an equitable solution for this issue.  I earnestly request you sir, to take necessary measures to resolve this issue so that our state medical faculty students can come back and continue their studies.

I wish you all success with your endeavours to provide good governance to this country.

Yours sincerely

Dr. Godwin Constantine

Senior lecturer in Medicine, University of Colombo and Cardiologist

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Latest comments

  • 9
    3

    Although the good doctors intentions are pure many don’t see it the same way he see it. This is public funding that the students are wasting and the opportunity for many. Doctors have turned into politicians ignoring how they got there or their moral responsibility towards the public.

    As previously suggested many times by politicians and others why not bring a national standard for public and private medical institutions.

    The next thing is to make higher education private like in the west. Funding through grants and student loans could be provided for the under privileged who have the necessary entrance qualifications. It works in the west why not Sri Lanka.

  • 2
    2

    We observe students of SITM has no adequate clinical training. So how could they be equal to MBBS Doctors

    Today I observe this Government has no concern about people they always say they have no concern about agitations. I feel they work on a preplanned their own hidden programme and would never change it

    Today no one want t have communication with me. No one comes for any service Every where I go I face injustice. If my intimates are forcibly made away from me for n no fault of mine by a super power. What is the democracy Average people are afraid to talk more than earlier/

    I am really pathetic about this so called Yahapalanaya for which I always supported.I am facing severe injustice. Therefore I know the Yahapalanaya who takes no responsibility regarding her people

  • 2
    0

    If children are misbehaving or wandering who are to blame. In this case, it is the govt. It looks politicians have screwed up the system now, it looks simply impossible to govern. I hear Progressive JVP are sabotaging the Universities because they want to push JVP to a side and take the reign in side the universities. So, that is at the expense of the country and they dumb university students. that is why govt should charge fees from students and should make the students to go through the system as fast as they can. IF students stop the education they should feel it from another side. In the case of SAITM, I heard Rajitha Senarathne is making Hay out of that. It is the same with MEdical doctors association and doctors are who are businessmen because, they want to earn some money at the epxense of these stranded students. I think, Sri lankan doctors are an Old boys club in comparison to the doctors else where in the world. They will learn a lesson if they go this way. Because, when AMPs become full pledged doctors after some time, why SAITM students can not be hired with a longer inter period, if they are that bad.

    • 2
      0

      Simple solution:

      1Publish minimum standards for medical education.

      2All state and private medical faculties to adhere within 1-2 years.

      3 Create three additional medical faculties as announced to increase intake into tax payer funded medical education and ideally every Uni to have a medical faculty. That is 15 unis will have 15 medical faculties from the current 8 medical schools.

      4 SAITM and any other private medical institution to be regulated and final exam to be common to all state and private students.

      5 Private students to pay for clinical training in base hospitals if their own hospital cannot provide adequate training in areas such as forensics etc.

      Caribbean has 70 private medical schools catering to USA and international students and the Caribbean itself. Our own students studying in Grenada paying USD 170,000 to USD 250,000. Hope we Could be a hub for medical education in the Indian Ocean region.

      • 0
        0

        JF simple solution has no reality. Try some tricks like 1. AG to ok minimum standards 2. State to adhere when they don’t even follow compulsory lectures 3. Fund costly medical schools in all uni 4. Holding final common exam for over 1000 students each year at once would mean a chaotic state to find patients for exam. and find experienced examiners also to come to same place. 5. Try sending privates to GMOA controlled hospitals without life insurance cover. Without visionary capacity re the true facts, silence is better than false accusations. We deal not with reasonable humans but with fickle mafia and terrorists

  • 0
    0

    It is simply fked up political system Sri lankan system is not working anymore.

  • 5
    1

    What is the point in talking about private medical schools whilst not taking advantage of the opportunity to avail of so-called ‘ free education ‘ The plight of state medical students is in their own hands. If they choose to loaf on the streets creating a nuisance to others, don’t expect any sympathy from the public.

  • 3
    2

    Standards have to be maintained in all universities. The government should come up with the standards required for all areas of study. All University should meet the standards whether private or public. Then there will not be any issues. Any University that does not meet the standards should be give a time period to rectify the deficiencies.

    Students should be given a time frame for free education ie 4 years for general degree and 5 for medical studies. If they don’t complete their studies during this period then they should pay for their education as the tax payer should not be penalized for the negligence of the students.

    The arrogant GMOA should be put in their place as they are now attempting to go beyond their line of duties! They should not decide whether Sri Lanka should have private medical colleges or not. Its a policy decision. Both the former government (though they are against it now for political reasons) and the present government policy was to have private medical colleges. Therefore this policy should not be changed.

  • 3
    2

    If you are intent on becoming doctors and serving the people and the country get back to lectures and instead of being pawns of the corrupt politicians and GMOA. When do you want to achieve your lifelong ambition of being doctors, settling down in life? When you are nakiyas at 35 or 40? Wasting public funds is one factor being idiots is the other! The politicians and administrators have achieved their pinacle, you are still to earn your red cent!

  • 3
    2

    We have to agree on one thing that private education has come to stay. Dr. Godwin has forgotten the batches of Doctors educated overseas coming in. Arn’t they a threat to locals. The entire world is relying on private sector lead growth why not Srilanka. If medical students are not attending classes they should be dealt with according university regulations. The problem lies else where. The govt. cannot accommodate all those who are qualified and wish to join medical education Thats why they have raised the bar. Any one passing A Levels in relevant should be eligible to enter medical colleges.
    ”Balla piduru kanneth nee kana gonata denneth nee”

  • 4
    3

    It is absurd to shed tears over the plight of arrogant pampered medical students who have been boycotting lectures for nearly 8 months. Their destiny is in their own hands. They can resume their studies tomorrow if they wish. That they prefer to spend their time like street urchins inside obscene shanties which they have erected by the roadside is their problem. Spare your tears for the suffering people of this country who are paying for the free education of medical students who are amongst the most fortunate young people in the country and take it all for granted. That is a scandal.These medical students prefer to be manipulated by GMOA doctors who by striking refuse to treat their generous benefactors in cruel violation of the most basic tenets of medical ethics. The President’s proper response to the ‘open letter’ regarding the so called ‘ plight of medical students’ should be to order the UGC to set a very short deadline by which they must resume their studies, and if they fail to comply cancel their registration and expel them all from the university forthwith.

    • 5
      1

      This is a many times more arrogant declaration by Prof Ekanayake than any arrogance displayed by the students.
      *
      Before us is a serious question which concerns the future of medical and other professional degrees.
      *
      The ‘degrees for sale’ approach of vendors of education seeking to make a killing by offering private medical degrees has adverse implications for the quality of medical degrees.
      The government has to come clean in these matters and honour its word.
      What Prof. E. is prescribing is along lines adopted by the Dharmishta President (1978-1988) who is responsible for the growing rot in our medical practice.

      • 0
        0

        You only can really understand the issue. If a person can enter Engineering Faculty or Medical Faculty with very low marks from Trincomalli, why can a Colombo based citizen like to study Medicine by paying money at least. But the issue is the Trincomalli student is getting a good training where as this Colombo based student is not getting a good training in the Private sector in Sri Lanka. My suggestion is that it is high time to revise the merit system and increase the percentage of merit to 70% so that all those are having good Z score can fill the state University. Where as students in Trincomalli like places also will start studying than plying like earlier. Time to come 100% merit to be implemented so that time to come Trinco man too will get the entrance on merit by improvement of his or her standard you see.

        Ganeshapillai

    • 4
      0

      ANI Ekanayake,
      Pathetic to see your comments as an academic. Are you pandering to the politicians who are corrupt to the core or do you have anyone dear to you in SAITM?
      Why do you only accuse medical students for the plight with SAITM? Do you consider our politicians as problem solvers who are trying hard to enhance quality of medical education? Why do you think they are ignoring to give a final decision on SAITM? Do you agree with them? Why are you not optimistic to say “They can resume their studies tomorrow if the Gov. gives a decision today”?

      You also need to be mindful that “free education” of these medical students is something they earned rightfully by hard work. They are gifted and are the cream of the country unlike our politicians. No one should dictate how they should react for their grievances. Are you saying they do not have the right to protest because they get “free education”??? Why do you think medical students/doctors in the west never get involved in such trade union actions? In those countries Medical/Dental/Veterinary professions are totally independent from the gov. and they are all managed by the respective professional bodies. Only in SL the gov. is trying to take over professions to manipulate and introduce corruption. Do you support that? Medical students’ main concern is, with SAITM their profession will suffer with an influx of un/under qualified medics. Do you agree with that? How do you want them to make their grievances?

      As an academic what I expect from you is not “cancel their registration and expel them all from the university forthwith” but some constructive input how this debacle can be resolved. Let me suggest a solution. If you like you can respond.

      1. All admissions to medical schools (both state and private) should be from the same merit list based on SL A/L results as used now.

      2. Every private medical school needs to obtain accreditation from the SLMC

      3. SAITM is currently considered unaccredited and therefore those students who have completed their studies should sit for the SLMC conducted exams (similar to practices in western countries).

      4. Gov. should allow total independence on medical education and licencing to SLMC .

      • 1
        3

        SLMC cant be left independent as court verdict already proved they violated medical ordinance and have malicious intent re SAITM. SLMC is govt. statutory body and is accountable to minister and hence not independent legally. Why is Eusense so blind. Uveil to truth and reality. Bias is bias, and malice and hatred get entrenched in the very core of psyche. This is the reason why some MPs in the earlier JVP killer movement still want to murder the health minister, an interesting account in a daily yesterday. “Thovil” kattadiyas sacrifice blood.

        • 2
          0

          Mr. citizen,
          What medical ordinance did the SLMC violate? What was the SLMC’s malicious intent? Protecting standards of medical profession??? SLMC widely publicized non accreditation of SAITM and warned applicants. If SLMC violated any ordinance they should be punished, but the court system has no right to force SLMC to issue medical licenses to unqualified candidates. If you are a SL citizen you should oppose that too!
          Am I blind or you blind?? In every country in this world governments have given independence to professional bodies to manage their own professions. This is true even in SL. But for some reason corrupt SL politicians are trying to influence and manipulate it for their power and advantage. Have you ever heard this happening in SL before? or even in any other country? What is next? Health minister is going to hand over licences to practice medicine???? There is no bias or hatred here. We need more doctors and I welcome not only SAITM but many more others like them. But we need to make sure these institutions are up to the standards required by the SLMC. You are not the one to decide what medical standards should SL have. Leave it to SLMC which is a professional body.

    • 3
      2

      I wholeheartedly agree with the Prof A E. Free education should be a privilege and not a right. This is what has been abused.

      I am pretty sure its not easy on their parents either with hopes and dreams they are sent to study and they are wasting their time on pavements being pawns of politicians.

  • 1
    0

    Sri Lanka is a population dense country needs medical doctors. Our medical schools lack capacity. Hence, students go abroad and study medicine. Here is SAITM st up bt Dr Neville Fernando a philanthropist – work to get a medical school if you are not satisfied with clinical training work on the standards. Do any of you all know the clinical teaching standards, methods of teaching in foreign medical schools?

    Learn to compare like with like be rational. Please teach your students some basic values and make them think rationally. Your students are listening to senior doctors who have a vested interest i.e. Private income.They have been educated in a basic blunted manner unable to think for themselves for their own and leave alone wider society.

  • 2
    0

    “Unplanned and poorly regulated private medical education will make medical education a commodity and destroy the integrity of medical education in this country”

    Thank you Dr.Constantine. Totally agree. I too feel sorry for the poor kids, but it’s all messed up and there is no way out.

  • 3
    2

    Why cant state medicos attend lectures, sit exams. and practice as doctors. Who is stopping them except their own rebellion, terrorism to stop others studying and becoming doctors. Surely they came with their “Z” to get out and not stay forever. Hatred and jealousy of GMOA should not be tolerated against SAITM whose standards have been approved right up to the court verdict to get internship training, and still injustice is done to them, blocking their entry and exit from uni. Prof Carlo’s SLMC communist twist and student leader’s ultra JVP political killer manipulations will only prevent former corrupt leaders imprisonments. Sources of funding of vested interests adds to issue. SAITM gets excellent training as they pay parents’ hard earned money. There are no millionaires in SAITM, simply eager students like all other A/L .Those who cant see that must look again. Writer of article supports his medicos or else. No principles or conscience. SAITM lives on.

  • 2
    1

    What we have to realise is
    1. SLMC has one had politically appointed members and on the other GMOA Moles, which give poor credibility to it since they cannot be trusted to come to an agreement
    2. The student are lead by Peratugami guys not necessarily medicoes which is a terrorist organization akin to JVP- NCMC issue. The object is power not necessarily students rights. We see this in the North as well!
    3. State medical students have had an initial handicap with the scholarship exam. Therefore the so called good students from rural areas are getting an advantage by coming to Colombo. Again the rural students having already given a facility are not the ‘best’ left behind. The Colombo students then have to battle with the ‘scholars’ as well as mediocre (who failed the scholarship exam) students from rural areas getting another advantage with standardization using tge Z score! Is this discrimination against Colombo students not necessarily Col 7 but Col 13 slums??
    The system is rotten! Discrimination affecting the rich is also discrimination!!

  • 2
    1

    VIVA SIATM, SIATM lives on.

  • 1
    0

    The students are led by the GMOA with no goal in sight. If the SAITM qualification is not up to the mark, let them sit the final conducted by the Medical College and prove their merit. I am aware of doctors who failed their exams a few times and there after qualified and had very successful practice.
    Has the GMOA visited the other countries where Srilankans are attending the medical college and ascertained the standards?.Why is it necessary for the foreign qualified students to follow a course in Srilanka after they return? Can’t the same be done for SAITM students until some sort of finalization is done.
    Why are the so Called specialists continuing to increase their fees sky high at regular intervals, after qualifying on Taxpayers Money? Do they declare their earnings to the Inland revenue. I was recently charged Rs.25,000/= as hospital charges for my Cataract Operation apart from Doctors fee,anesthetist fee, machine Charges etc. Hospital charges for sitting at the hospital for a couple of hours and warming the seat, awaiting my call to the operation theater. Not even a cup of tea was served during my wait.Won’t the authorities look into this.? I understand the hospital charges and machine Charges are to make good the reduction on the LENS charges by the Government. Thank you Rajitha .Dig a hole to fill up another hole! !

  • 1
    0

    GMOA accuses about standards to make things look valid. The truth is, they would love to get into the SAITM course. They can, if they include it in postgraduate training as advanced tech. facility. SAITM will do excellent standard if common MCQ given to them, but fear based students oppose. Those who accuse most parrot talk, have never stepped inside SAITM, likely the author also Students/GMOA strike nightly to do what they call “thovil function” and lamp poojas. Hope they get some light into their dark brains through scam kattandiyas. Breatheliser and drug testing are needed The Tsar wiped out in 1917 communist revolution with his wife carrying Queen Victoria’s blood, also had thovil Rasputin scam, but the king (Tsar) was canonized as a saint. Our thovil medics are unique. Patients meditate during day and thovil march at night. Weirdos cant study.

  • 2
    0

    Dr. Godwin Constantine starts the letter “I pen this letter with great regret as our state medical faculty students are on the streets without being heard for more than 7 months now.”.
    The students have grievances and these must be addressed. GoSL hopes that the students will give up and the step-mother can live happily ever after.
    Use of force may succeed in breaking up the impasse but will only postpone the re-eruption – history is full of such incidents.
    This day-to-day living by GoSL must stop.

  • 2
    0

    As a matter of fact state medical students need not boycott classes. They should attend classes and complete their programs.
    It is the responsibility of the SLMC to maintain acceptable standards for medical education and medical licensing and safeguard quality of medical profession .

  • 1
    2

    SJ.
    The rot began with your SiriMao in 1970!

  • 1
    2

    Sri Lanka is one of the very few countries where private medical colleges are not found. North Colombo Medical College was defeated by GMOA. Sri Lanka is a small country with relatively large population. Economic growth largely depends on service sector growth. Education is a lucrative growth service sector. Many counties have made use of this sector to accelerate economic growth. GMOA do not want private medical colleges in Sri Lanka in order to retain their monopoly in the medical business. They want to be super rich always no matter whatever happens to the country.
    They think they are the only professionals needed for the country. GMOA’s ultimate aim is to prevent private medical colleges in Sri Lanka. Therefore, the government should take a firm stand this time around in the national interest.

  • 1
    1

    Dear Dr. Constantine, There is no one preventing state medical students from returning to their lectures and clinical studies. The court case before the supreme court of Sri Lanka has effectively prevented the SAITM graduates from their internship prospects. Therefore, the state medical students and all those persons who are so concerned about so called sub-standard graduates entering the medical profession do not need to fear – as long as the court case is going on the SAITM graduates will not get internship. If these state students and their backers are really concerned about the state of affairs of the country in general and the medical profession in particular they should immediately return to their studies and stop wasting public funds. The opponents of SAITM are attempting to make out as if SAITM is preventing the state students from returning to their studies. As mentioned above it is not true. It is a diabolical lie. Nobody is preventing them from returning to their studies. Returning to their studies does not mean that they give up on their “struggle’ as there are other means of carrying on their so called struggle against SAITM. It is quite appalling to see these so called cream of the country being misled by extremist elements who are not really interested in resolving this issue but have other political agenda’s of their own.
    Blaming SAITM for the current plight of the state medical students is akin to looking up and spitting and then blaming some one else when the spit falls back on your own face! So, before writing an open letter to the President, you should address your own faculty students.

  • 0
    1

    GMOA wants monopoly and control over all doctors for financial gain and their practice and PGIM exams. are going on uninterrupted. No loss except dry tongue spreading false accusations against SAITM standards which was the twisted version Carl Marx presented and got court verdict of violation of medical ordinance against the SLMC which has no legal reason to deny internship to approved SAITM. Court of Appeal order is still valid for SAITM and acting against it led to GMOA AP being hauled up for contempt of court on September 8th. Also SLMC/GMOA appeal to Supreme Court will be heard from 12th September onwards and hence the protestor’s claim of “Thovil functions” on these days to coincide with threatening of courts. SAITM doctors have now received 2 additional years of extra training since the SLMC ideological malicious report. To prove their innocence, GMOA/SLMC legacy to state students was boycotting lectures with permanent damage unlike their strikes/practice. Now the uni staff are trying to rescue their students as they are paying the cost of folly of the govt. doctors TU which does not include students also politically beguiled. Tragi-comic web enmeshes so called crème of the uniquely weird “Z” JUSTICE COMES.

  • 0
    0

    We keep saying that our country is corrupt to the core in everything.
    Economist Harsha de Silva in a recent interview fully agreed with
    this view and went even further to express his frustration by saying
    that he even feels like quitting politics . Yes , this is the situation in
    modern Srilanka where EVERYTHING FAILS EVERYWHERE since
    independence, never mind left or right politics . Everything fails
    because THEY ARE DESIGNED TO FAIL FROM INCEPTION ! And
    now to the point , Why this students struggle against SAITM ? Is it
    against the quality of SAITM medical degree ? Then , they must
    first focus on well over fifty thousands QUACKS and more than 50 %
    of unqualified pharmacists dispensing doctors’ prescriptions at
    pharmacies run by unskilled people hanging certificates of qualified
    pharmacists and some doctors without their presence ! This practice
    is now going on and on for many decades and NOBODY CARES . Do it
    now and we take the SAITM issue after that !

  • 0
    0

    Typical Asian culture has elevated medical profession to the status
    of GODS and because of this foolish tendency among uneducated
    and educated but not advanced thinking folks , medical profession
    has gained fame in these Asian countries . The objective itself is
    very badly flawed here creating a situation of GODS and FOLLOWERS.
    Doctors are under the impression that every other profession is only
    SECOND to them . We see that in their behaviour in the practice and
    in their social life . We do have some good ones but in small numbers.
    It is the same thing almost in any profession in our country . AND
    THIS DEFINITELY IS ONE CURSE we all have to demolish if we are to
    stand up as a nation . Life is not a race to beat the other as in a
    competition . We need a healthy nation with less doctors and less
    hospitals , not more ! What is going on here is the reverse . More
    hospitals , more doctors and more pharmacies to deal with more and
    more diseases and patients .

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