Selection of docs for PGIM diploma course under fire

By Kumudini Hettiarachchi and Vimukthini Nonis

While accusations of being ‘unethical’ were being lobbed at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) over selections for an online course, the PGIM reacted with assurances that the matter has been sorted out.

The decision will be formalized at the next meeting, at the end of this month, of the Senate of the University of Colombo to which the PGIM is attached, said Director Prof. Rezvi Sheriff when contacted by the Sunday Times.

The accusations came with regard to the selection test held in August last year for a two-year Diploma in Family Medicine/Distance Education which was launched in December 2010, the Sunday Times understands.

Around 90 doctors had sat the selection test, after which 30 had been chosen in September for the course, a source said, adding that no marks-sheet had been officially released by the PGIM.

However, in November, the source alleged, the PGIM chose nine more to follow the course. The problems arose when those who were not selected heard that some of them had more marks than the nine doctors selected later for the course. Although these nine doctors had passed the selection test some had got lesser marks than those who had passed the test but had not been chosen, the source said.

Even if there had been vacancies for nine more, the merit order should have been followed, said another source, explaining that the PGIM had picked the nine randomly and not in the order of marks received from highest to lowest, as should have been done.

Such selections smack of favouritism, family bandyism or nepotism, another source said, adding that this is not in keeping with the standards followed by this prestigious institution and a complaint has been made to the Human Rights Commission.

The PGIM, according to its website, is the only national institution in Sri Lanka that deals with the post-graduate training of medical doctors. Governed by a Board of Management, consisting of eminent persons including nominees by the University Grants Commission, the academic programmes of the PGIM are planned and executed by 21 Boards of Study.

This issue had arisen from the action taken by the Board of Study for Family Medicine, the source pointed out, explaining that after the initial 30 selections were made for the online Diploma in Family Medicine, the Board seems to have thrown justice and fair-play to the winds.

This matter had been brought to the notice of PGIM Director Prof. Sheriff in early January and a protest letter signed by 34 doctors submitted to him with copies being sent to all members of the Board of Study for Family Medicine, the Coordinator of the online diploma course, Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake, Presidential Secretary Lalith Weeratunge and the Government Medical Officers’ Association.

When the Sunday Times contacted Prof. Sheriff he assured that the matter will be sorted out but declined to say how. Moves are underway by the doctors affected by not being selected for the course, to file a fundamental rights petition shortly, it is learnt.

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