THE CONTROVERSIAL SAITM ISSUE
Statement issued by the chairman of GMOA
The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) has taken a tough stand against non-state medical education in the country. Against this backdrop, it is on a collision course with SAITM. It even resorted to trade union action against SAITM being given the degree awarding status.
The GMOA also brought the matter to the notice of President Maithripala Sirisena stressing the need for governmental regulation of medical education for high standards. The following is a text of the letter by its chairman Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya:
When providing medical services, it is the prime responsibility of the government of any civilized country to safeguard the rights of patients and all citizens. To ensure patients’ safety, a government must maintain the minimum standards of medical services. For this technical procedural requirement, there are laws enacted by the government. Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) is the apex body monitoring their implementation in the greater interests of patients and the country at large. These acts, meant for patients’ safety are implemented by SLMC on behalf of the government. It is not a trade union or Nongovernmental Organization(ngo).
This fundamental need to ensure the rights of patients is fulfilled by the legislature, namely Minister of Health & Minister of Higher Education. The Appeal Court verdict No CA/WRIT/187/2016 points out the way these two ministers misused this power.
Medical schools that produce doctors are under the authority of Ministry of Higher Education. But according to the University Act of Sri Lanka, a medical school must have a compliance certificate by SLMC to obtain degree awarding status. But the former Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayaka has misused his powers to publish a gazette in 2011 without SAITM having obtained a compliance certificate from SLMC. This gazette has many deficiencies.
It doesn’t have a date of enforcement. It also contains a list of inadequacies that prevent SAITM from obtaining degree awarding status. Therefore it is clear that SAITM didn’t have the technical capability to provide medical education.
As mentioned in the court verdict the prosecuting student got enrolled in SAITM in 2009 for a Russian M.D. degree although she obtained a SAITM M.B.B.S. degree. Former Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayaka published a second gazette in 2013 following his first gazette in 2011 which listed out SAITM inadequacies & didn’t have a date of enforcement. This second gazette too was published without the compliance certificate from SLMC. It also mentions that SAITM achieved required quality &standards since 2009. But, 1. By 2009 SAITM didn’t at least have a hospital. (Even
the foundation for the hospital was laid in 2013) 2. SAITM applied for degree awarding status in 2011. 3. Former Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayaka has accepted that SAITM has many inadequacies in his own gazette published in 2011. Therefore Former Minister of Higher Education S.B. Dissanayaka has a stand for his first gazette by his second gazette. The two gazettes are contradictory.
As mentioned in the court verdict, even the current Minister of Higher Education Lakshman Kiriella has not taken any steps to correct this faulty status.
Minister of Health Rajitha Senarathna who is responsible in implementing the Medical Ordinance has acted in contrast to the stands taken by his predecessors. As pointed out in the court ruling, he is responsible for two technical errors.
As mentioned in the court verdict the prosecuting student got enrolled in SAITM in 2009 for a Russian M.D. degree although she obtained a SAITM M.B.B.S. degree.