Speaking to the media at a press-conference today, (8) senior members of the GMOA explicitly expressed their views on the establishment of a minimum standard for Medical Education.
Dr.Haritha Athuge, the Assistant Secretary of the GMOA began his remarks by stating that the Medical profession both locally and overseas had always been one that had respected and maintained a minimum standard. He further stated that traditionally, due to the existence of a well monitored Medical education system, the Medical professionals who pass out of local universities had always been of a high standard.
Dr.Athuge next stated that the decision arrived at by the Supreme court on the January 31, 2017 was that the need to establish a minimum standard for medical education had not been gazetted thereby nullifying the request to abolish the SAITM university.
He next stated that the verdict given over 6 months ago needed urgent action and was not acted upon by the relevant authoritative bodies resulting in a prolonged period of turmoil adversely affecting the lives of the Medical students and patients of the country.
Dr.Athuge then went on to state that the GMOA believes that the establishment of a minimum standard for Medical education in the country will legally dismiss any baseless claim to continue the SAITM university. He further stated that as SAITM will not be in compliance with an established standard, the government will have no choice but to abolish the institute.
He further stated that this strong legal stance that will result in the resolution of this conflict will prevent any future corrupt organization from initiating any fraudulent educational institutes similar to SAITM that utilize under-qualified educators to produce blemished professionals.
Dr.Athuge further stated that the establishment of a minimum standard will benefit the general populace vehemently. He stated that currently, any patient regardless of social or economic status can walk into a government hospital to receive quality treatment devoid of preferential treatment.
It was also mentioned that patients are able to trust the current doctors and need not fear for their lives.
He next stated that any Medical professional who did not adhere to or comply with a standard will provide a biased service ultimately destroying the entire health sector of Sri Lanka.
According to his statements, it was reported that several Health Ministers had attempted or strived for standardization within the country.
“Even though past Ministers have tried, the current Minister will never allow this to happen” said Dr.Athuge who went on to state that the current Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne will make sure that the SAITM campus will be legally established.
Dr.Athuge then went on to state that the GMOA had informed the Prime Minister and the President of the MOH not attempting to establish a minimum standard. He stated that several ministers like S.B.Dissanayake came forward to strongly take their stance whilst the MOH cowered behind legal technicalities to protect his personal agenda.
As the briefing progressed, Dr.Athuge reminded the gathering that Rajitha Senaratne had promised to provide a resolution within the course of 02 weeks to the ongoing standardization issue. He then stated that the Health Minister maintains a facade to deceive the media and public that he is actively attempting to establish a minimum standard.
He then stated that several sources have confirmed that he is making no effort to establish a minimum standard but is instead in the process of legally establishing a legitimate claim to make SAITM a regulated Medical education center.
The Assistant Secretary then stated that the 2 week time-frame that the minister himself established will come to an end on August 14, 2017. He questioned as to what the repercussions will be if the MOH could not keep to his promise.
Dr.Athuge stated that if Rajitha Senaratne could not gazette a minimum standard for medical education by August 14, he should resign from his post as Minister of Health. He further stated that it is the responsibility of the MOH to make sure a minimum standard is established as soon as possible. He also stated that the MOH has the jurisdiction to facilitate such a necessity.
Dr.Athuge next stated that if Rajitha Senaratne could not keep to his promise he would be failing as a minister. He also stated that if he could not, he should issue a public apology and resign. He went on to state that the GMOA believes that it would be unethical for him to remain the MOH.
Concurrently views were expressed on the appropriateness for the MOH to be involved in any decisions that are to be made on the fate of SAITM.
Dr.Athuge stated that Chathura Senaratne, the son of the MOH stepped down from his seat in the The Parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee on Education and Human Resources Development in 2016 when the committee was to issue a verdict on SAITM. He did so as his wife was a student at SAITM stating that his involvement would create a severe conflict of interest.
Dr.Athuge cited this example stating that the MOH should follow the example set by his son and not jar the establishment of minimum standards.
It was also stated that today, the MOH is attempting to shut down government hospitals to cover the magnanimous losses incurred by the Dr.Neville Fernando Teaching hospital. The example of a Dentist who was practicing in the Bulathkohupitiya region being offered employment at the Neville Fernando hospital was cited here. It was further stated that the GMOA would not allow an entire country to suffer for the sake of the survival of one family.
In his closing remarks, Dr.Athuge stated that the Anti-SAITM collective will have a special meeting tomorrow at the GMOA Head Office at 2.00pm tomorrow (9) in the presence of several political personalities and trade unions who have pledged their support. He stated that a course of action for will be decided on how best to further their movement.
Dr.Athuge finally urged the President and PM to provide a solution that will ultimately benefit the nation. He also stated that if this issue is not resolved the GMOA will regrettably have to resort to drastic actions that may adversely affect the innocent patients of Sri Lanka.
The media spokesperson for the GMOA Dr.Samantha Ananda expressed his views later on stating that even a basic product in our market requires a minimum standard. He also brought to light the dire straits the Indian Medical sphere is in now as a result of their privatized Medical Education.
Dr.Ananda further stated that the benefits certain political personalities would derive through SAITM were incomprehensible. Appealing to the PM and president he stated that only the MOH can resolve this issue.
He also stated that if one individual can supersede even the President, the administrative structure of the nation is severely flawed.
As the situation progresses the entire nation awaits the verdict that is to be delivered on August 14, 2017. The general public can only hope for an amiable resolution that will not adversely affect the lives of the people of Sri Lanka and help resume the academic careers of the Medical Students.