COLOMBO (News 1st) – A letter addressed recently by the President of the Sri Lanka Medical Council to President Maithripala Sirisena, indicates that there is no permanent solution as yet to the issues surrounding the private medical college SAITM.
Over the past two years, there has been intense opposition within the country to the granting of medical degrees by the SAITM institution in Malabe. The public faced severe hardships as a result of protests by university student unions, the government medical officers association and strikes at hospitals.
Eventually, the President too intervened to settle the issue and also appointed a committee to devise a permanent solution.
Chairman of the Presidential Committee on SAITM, Dr.Harsha de Silva stated that through the legal handover of all assets and liabilities, students and staff of SAITM to the new institution, SAITM will be abolished. He added that it is the legal situation, they had given a deadline that this must be completed by the 31st of December.
However, the issue has not been settled. Last week, cabinet approval was granted to transfer 980 SAITM students to the Kotalawala Defence University. Responding to this move, the President of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, Professor Colvin Gunaratne, addressed a letter to the President claiming that enforcing this decision would pose a challenge to safeguarding standard of medical education in the country.
The letter went on to note that there is a danger of doctors being created in the country without the approval of the Medical Council.
A discussion was held yesterday (May 26) between the JVP and the Inter University Students Federation on the new Kotalawala Defence University Act. The meeting was held at the JVP Headquarters in Pelawatta.
There MP Nalinda Jayatissa stated that this government attempted to introduce private medical universities to the country through SAITM and now they are attempting to take the Kotalawala Defence University which is a state university and open it to the private sector and privatize it, that is why they are preparing to introduce this Act.
A medical student with an overseas qualification must sit for a final exam set by the Sri Lanka Medical Council, in order to be registered as a medical practitioner in the country. However, should the students who will now be graduating from KDU, also sit for this exam?
The anti-SAITM protests, which for two years hampered the day to day lives of the people, and delayed the education of medical students, are about to come to the fore once again wearing a new face. Shouldn’t the relevant authorities and ministers identify this danger and seek to immediately act on the letter to the President by Professor Colvin Gunaratne?
Is it not the responsibility of the Sri Lanka Medical Council to provide an expedient solution to the shortage of doctors in the country and actively advocate in such national issues?
Yesterday, it was reported that there are only two specialist doctors in the entire Southern Province to deal with a deadly outbreak of viral fever. Is the Sri Lanka Medical Council unable to intervene in such sensitive matters?
Failure to act when necessary could result in politically motivated cartels acting in their own self-interest, pushing the country into yet another crisis.