Clinical training for private students: Committee meets tomorrow to identify state hospitalsView(s):
By Nadia Fazlulhaq
The Committee appointed by President Ranil Wickremesinghe to identify suitable government hospitals which could provide clinical training for medical students of the Kotelawala Defence University (KDU), Lyceum Campus and other private universities will meet for the first time tomorrow.
Committee Chairperson and Health State Minister Dr. Seetha Arambepola told the Sunday Timesthat the committee’s initial objective was to identify suitable government hospitals to function as teaching hospitals to provide clinical placements for medical students enrolled at the Kotelawala Defence University (KDU), Lyceum Campus and other higher education institutes in the Colombo, Kalutara, Gampaha, Kurunegala and Polonnaruwa districts.
Attention would also be paid to upgrading Dr. Neville Fernando Hospital into a teaching hospital, she said.
The main intention is to facilitate clinical training for these private university students without causing inconvenience to the training programmes of state university students.
The KDU’s Medical Faculty Dean, Prof. Namal Wijesinhe, said the KDU acquired 950 students from the now defunct South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) and the last and the largest batch — about 450 students — were undergoing clinical training.
“Homagama, Avissawella, Sri Jayawardenepura, Horana, Panadura, Gampaha, and Wathupitiwala hospitals are used for clinical training. We are trying to minimise overlapping student clinical placements,” Prof. Wijesinghe said.
Dr. Arambepola said the committee would ensure no repetition of the SAITM crisis. “Offering medical degrees without quality clinical training will have a negative impact on the institution. We are planning to develop our hospitals, so even private university medical students can be trained in these teaching hospitals,” she said.
The State Minister said private medical universities using the facilities of teaching hospitals could financially support the hospitals or pay a fee to the Health Ministry.
She said the Government would provide the necessary infrastructure for base and district hospitals to be upgraded as teaching hospitals. “This will encourage quality state and private medical education in the country. At present, even newly established state medical faculties such as the Moratuwa University are struggling to find nearby teaching hospitals,” she said.
Prof. J. Balawardena, consultant oncologist and executive director of KDU’s University Hospital, said there was a demand from overseas students for clinical training here for subjects like tropical medicine. “The country can also focus on encashable knowledge,” he said.
More than 1,000 foreign students arrive in the country annually for clinical training, University Grants Commission Chairman Prof. Sampath Amaratunga said.
He said that to meet the growing need for teaching hospitals for clinical training, a proposal to establish a medical faculty at the Uva Wellassa University had been announced with Badulla provincial general hospital which has 64 consultants being the teaching hospital.
The other members of the presidential committee are Health Ministry’s Additional Secretary Dr. R.M. Saman Kusumsiri Ratnayake, Additional Secretary (Medical Services) Dr. A.K.S. De Alwis, UGC Chairman Prof. Sampath Amaratunga, Consultant Surgeon Prof. Mohan De Silva, Sri Jayawardenepura University’s Medical Faculty Professor Bawantha Gamage, Senior Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon Dr. Narendra Pinto, KDU’s Medical Faculty Dean Prof. Namal Wijesinghe, Sri Lanka Medical Council President Prof. Vajira Dissanayake, Government Medical Officers’ Association President Dr. Darshana Sirisena, KDU’s Hospital Executive Director Prof. J. Balawardane and Health Ministry Director (Nursing) Of R.L.S. Samanmali.
The committee is expected to make recommendations and submit a report to President Ranil Wickremesinghe within two months.
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