Letters to the Editor | Sunday Observer

Letters to the Editor

SAITM - solution encompassing all contending parties

It is regrettable that the SAITM problem goes on relentlessly. An acceptable and peaceful solution could be worked out only with some degree of compromise among all contending parties / stakeholders, without sacrificing their basic interests.

Therefore, we suggest that the control and management of SAITM medical school and hospital be vested in a Statutory Board of Management (SBM), consisting of nominees of the following: • Ministry of Higher Education • Ministry of Health • UGC • SLMC • SAITM • Committee of Deans of State Medical Faculties • Dean, SAITM • GMOA •Treasury.

The SBM would decide all matters relating to: *admissions of students * selection and appointment of the academic staff * provision of adequate learning opportunities / situations (e.g. nearby Government hospitals) * maintaining required standards of learning / teaching; requisite curriculum * examinations, discipline, welfare * finance and administration.

The broad- based structure of the SBM would provide the opportunity to consider the various aspects and challenges of this project, and settle contentious issues at Board level.

With regard to finance and administration, it would be feasible to form a Private- Public Partnership (PPP), in the form of a Company - PLC

Some other suggestions:

1. Include the resources of state hospitals, such as Avissawella Government Hospital, Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital, Homagama Govt Hospital, to supplement clinical training of the medical students. There should be no objections to such provisions, as this would not cater to the interests of one individual or private institute.

2. Make provision to accommodate about 120 students

3. The final MBBS examination shall be conducted by a panel of examiners, 50% of whom shall be from other recognised medical schools, approved by the SLMC.

4. SLMC shall give provisional recognition (to practise medicine) to those who have already passed the final MBBS at SAITM, in the same way it does to graduates from foreign medical schools. Full registration would be given only after passing the Act 16 examination.

5. These standards and requirements of medical education shall apply to all new medical schools, state or non-state.

Highlighting some noteworthy features

*Offers conciliatory and meaningful measures to stakeholders, all of whom could be partners in the new venture

* Standards of medical education would be strictly maintained and admissions conform to SLMC requirements

* If any of the present students at SAITM have gained admission without the basic requirements, they would not be entitled to obtain SLMC recognition *Students, who fail to get into state medical colleges though they have the requisite admission qualifications, would be able to obtain a recognised medical degree at a relatively affordable cost.

*Financial gain for the State from foreign students, and saving of foreign exchange spent for education abroad (said to be several billions of rupees) *Demand for medical education would increase in the future, particularly, in Asian countries. As there is an increasing need for more medical doctors to serve the country, the question of unemployment for them would not arise *Private and state medical schools would open up a huge market for our medical graduates.

Herbert A. Aponso,
Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics and Upali Illangasekera,
former Professor in Medicine - both of University of Peradeniya