It is after much thought and reflection and against the well meant advice of several persons close to me that I thought I would set down my thoughts on a matter that has been very much in the headlines during the past few months.
The matter I am referring to is that of the MBBS progamme of the South Asia Institute of Technology and Medicine, better known as SAITM. The various issues involved have been set out, discussed and debated in several media conferences, press releases, paper articles, by way of posters, demonstrations, marches, public meetings and even in our parliament. I need not repeat them here since the interested public is well aware of the arguments made for and against SAITM and sufficient information, including a judgment by the Court of Appeal is available in the public domain.
I approach this issue from the angle of justice and fairness; – firstly to the students who have been enrolled to follow the MBBS course at SAITM and secondly to the general public who will come under the care of these students once they qualify and are registered as medical practitioners.
I believe that students were enrolled for the MBBS degree at SAITM from 2009 onwards and that there is no dispute that this Institution was recognized as a degree awarding institution in 2011. Since then, there has been ongoing disagreements with the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) and the Government Medical Officers Union about clinical training and finally about the provisional registration of SAITM medical graduates by the SLMC which led to the Court of Appeal petition.
Ensuring that students enrolled for medical (or any other degree course) are properly qualified is a matter for the University Grants’ Commission while ensuring that proper standards are maintained in the teaching of medicine and in clinical training is the responsibility of the SLMC. In both these areas the Ministries of Higher Education and Health have an extremely vital roles to play.
Students who have enrolled at the SAITM are our own, who have pursued their dream of passing out as doctors in Sri Lanka. There are many other Sri Lankan students who are able to afford the fees charged by foreign medical schools who have studied medicine in schools including South Asian ones, who have been registered to practice medicine in Sri Lanka. It is therefore unjust to deny the same opportunity to SAITM medical students.
I therefore call on the Government and the SLMC:
- to abide by the ruling given by the Court of Appeal and not to deny provisional registration to duly qualified medical students of SAITM.
- to study and act on the proposals made by the Deans of the eight Medical faculties to resolve this issue
- to ensure the upgrading and standardization of training in all medical faculties under the supervision of the SLMC
(Cover Photo : SAITM logo source : http://www.saitm.edu.lk)