FFMTA, Medical Faculty deans, GMOA take common stand on SAITM, present proposals to President
Concrete proposals to ease the controversy surrounding the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) and stymie the slide down the slippery slope to major youth unrest have been presented to President Maithripala Sirisena this week.
Stop admissions to SAITM with immediate effect; stop SAITM from granting an MBBS degree forthwith; legalise the minimum standards required for medical education; appoint a committee to bring about a fair solution for all the students who have got trapped in the SAITM fraud, are the recommendations of the Federation of Faculty of Medicine Teachersā Association (FFMTA).
These are among recommendation in a ācommon standā on SAITM by FFMTA, as well as the Deans of the eight state medical faculties and the Government Medical Officersā Association (GMOA), the Sunday Times learns.
The other recommendations by these three groups categorically state that the Health Minister should act on the technical report which was submitted on SAITM by a team from the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) and that the Higher Education Minister should make it clear that SAITM has not obtained a compliance certificate from the SLMC
The night meeting with President Sirisena on March 15 had lasted more than 1Ā½ hours, it is understood, starting at 7 and winding up at about 9.15.
The participants at the meeting included Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella and State Minister for Higher Education Mohanlal Grero; the Registrar of the SLMC; five Deans from the state medical faculties; two representatives from FFMTA; three representatives of the Government Medical Officersā Association (GMOA); two representatives from the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS); three from SAITM; and an SLMC council member not as a representative of the SLMC but in his private capacity.
The SLMC members had refrained from attending the meeting as the council has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal (CA) order instructing that a SAITM student be granted registration. However, the Registrar attended the meeting as he is not a member of the council.
Meanwhile, pointing out that the SAITM issue has created many āunfavourableā outcomes to the national health system, the AMS has submitted a set of extensive proposals to solve this dilemma.
Stating that all state medical faculties are not functioning due to students boycotting lectures, clinical training and examinations, the AMS has said: āThis can cause a delay in starting internship appointments, a delay in post internship appointments and admission of new students to state medical faculties. Moreover, the CA judgment has exposed major weaknesses and lapses in the monitoring of medical education in our country. All these can give rise to long term and irrevocable losses to the national health system.ā
While some of the AMS recommendations are similar to those of the FFMTA, others include suggestions that students who are already in SAITM with acceptable entry qualifications should be given an opportunity to complete their clinical training in SLMC-approved hospitals, until the SLMC is satisfied with the standards of clinical training in SAITM; that the ācompliance certificateā should be an essential pre-requisite to granting provisional registration for SAITM graduates; and that the Advanced Level (A/L) results of all students at SAITM should be scrutinised and those without the minimum entry qualifications asked to leave SAITM with compensation.
Urging that measures should be taken to provide all necessary resources to all state medical schools to maintain their standards, the AMS also requests the Deans of the eight medical faculties to work in collaboration with it to implement these proposals.
With regard to private medical education in Sri Lanka, the AMS states that the government should make a policy decision on how many private medical schools are necessary to produce medical graduates for Sri Lanka. This is necessary to prevent unemployment among doctors in the future.
āWe request the President to appoint a high-powered committee comprising a representative each from the Higher Education Ministry, the Health Ministry, the University Grants Commission, the SLMC, the FFMTA, the Attorney Generalās Department, the AMS and the GMOA,ā the AMS states, reiterating that the AMS would like to request the government to appoint a Board of Directors to run the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital.
The AMS has also extended its support in training and examining medical students from private universities, if its proposals are implemented.
|CA erred in concluding SAITM was a degree awarding institute: SLMC |
The Court of Appeal (CA) erred in concluding that the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) was a degree awarding institute, when that directive was given conditional to a compliance certificate being issued, the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) has said.
The SLMC, in its petition filed this week in the Supreme Court seeking leave to appeal and set aside the CA order, has principally taken up the position that in the absence of a compliance certificate, SAITM was not a degree awarding institute.
The CA issued order on January 31 in favour of the petitioner, a final year student of SAITM, directing the SLMC to register the petitioner provisionally as a medical practitioner, a ruling that would help all final year students at SAITM which has been embroiled in the issue of not being set up properly as a medical university, with proper clinical facilities.
āThe CA erred in holding that SAITM had been declared as a degree awarding institution and continued to be a degree awarding institution empowered to grant and confer the MBBS degree on the petitioner when P4 (the order from the Ministry of Higher Education) is only a conditional order issued under Section 70D of the Universitiesā Act which requires the degree awarding institution to obtain a compliance certificate complying with the said conditions. Therefore P4 (the order) being only a conditional order and in the absence of a compliance certificate ā¦.. SAITM cannot be treated in law as a degree awarding institute,ā the appeal from the SLMC stated.