THE CON­TRO­VER­SIAL SAITM IS­SUE

State­ment is­sued by the chair­man of GMOA

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - FEATURES -

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.

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