Wijeyadasa: SAITM graduates should still undergo KDU training | Sunday Observer

Wijeyadasa: SAITM graduates should still undergo KDU training

In spite of the Supreme Court ruling ordering the Sri Lanka Medical Council to register SAITM graduates, Minister of Higher Education Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe yesterday appeared to be siding with the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), saying he would still urge graduates of the beleaguered private medical college to undergo yet another 10-month training at the Kotalawela Defence University (KDU).

Minister Rajapakshe claimed that the SAITM MBBS had been condemned in the court of public opinion, and said he had his doubts that any medical institution would give graduates of the private medical school employment. “The whole world knows that the SAITM degree has been condemned by the Sri Lanka Medical Council, even though the Council will be compelled to register the SAITM graduate to give effect to the SC ruling,” he claimed.

However, the 25-member SLMC is dominated by members of the GMOA, the powerful doctor’s union that declared war against SAITM after the fall of the Rajapaksa regime in 2015, crippling public services and launching endless demonstrations until the Government caved to pressure and shut down the private medical school.

“Although the SLMC will be compelled to give effect to the decision of the Supreme Court and register the degree holder, public opinion is somewhat different,” the Minister said.

Instead, the 83 graduates from SAITM could undergo a 10 month training course at KDU and have clinical training at professorial units and would then be awarded a KDU MBBS which is a well accepted degree, he added.

This was the GMOA position, and Minister Rajapakshe said he believed this was a “fair suggestion”. “If the students get adequate training as doctors like students in Government medical faculties, the GMOA has no objections,” the Minister explained.

But despite these claims by the GMOA and the Minister, when SAITM was functional, students at the private medical school which was based in Malabe were offered clinical training at the Avissawela Base Hospital and the Medical Officer of Health, Kaduwela, both state medical facilities. Attempts to give SAITM students clinical training at the Homagama Hospital were also blocked by the GMOA.

In any event, it was not clear if the SLMC was bound to register only the student that filed action in Court or all graduates of SAITM, Minister Wijeyadasa said. If the SLMC decides to register only the petitioner, the others will have to go to court to facilitate their rights, he added.

In order to share his views on the problem at hand as the subject minister, Dr. Rajapakshe has already scheduled a meeting with SAITM parents and students (the group of 83). “I will explain them pros and cons. There is a meeting already fixed for those SAITM students and parents on October 2,” Minister clarified.

Meanwhile expressing views of the GMOA, its assistant secretary Dr. Naveen De Soysa told Sunday Observer that the Sri Lanka Medical Council had to meet again to take a final decision on SAITM graduates.

However speaking on behalf of the SLMC, its Acting President, Professor Nilanthi De Silva said the Council would fully comply with the Supreme Court order.

“Accordingly we will be writing back to the instructing attorney of the student who filed the case, asking her to submit a completed application. We have a due process in the Medical Council.” she explained.

The SC on Friday (21) upheld the Court of Appeal judgment permitting the graduates of SAITM to be registered with the SLMC. The Court of Appeal ordered the SLMC to register SAITM graduates on January 2017 and SLMC challenged that decision at the Supreme Court.

The SC also ordered the SLMC to pay Rs. 100,000 as a compensation for the delay of registering the petitioner.

Meanwhile, following the Supreme Court decision sources say SAITM students are now considering claiming compensation from the SLMC for disrupting their medical education. According to sources they are also now looking into the possibility of claiming damages from the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) for willful disruption of professional education for over two years.