President promises to solve SAITM issue by Monday – GMOA

President Maithripala Sirisena has assured Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) that a final solution the crisis caused by the SAITM (South Asian Institute for Technology and Medicine) would be given on Monday (Aug. 28).

GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge told The Island last night that they received the assurance at a meeting chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat. Dr. Aluthge said that President Maithripala Sirisena had also assured that the Attorney General would inform the Supreme Court of the government stand on the SAITM soon.

Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya was present at the meeting.

Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne had refrained from taking part in the discussion though he was present throughout the meeting.

On the invitation of the Presidential Secretariat, in addition to Dr. Senaratne, the AG and senior officials of AG’s department, Sri Lanka Medical Council, Higher Education Ministry, Health Ministry, University Grants Commission, heads of medical faculties, several trade unions and parents of university students participated in the discussion.

The GMOA said that they had discussed a range of issues, including stopping of further recruitment by the SAITM, halting awarding of degrees, gazetting of minimum standards, urgent requirement to inform the Supreme Court of the government’s stand on SAITM and establishment of a mechanism to address the grievances of those studying at the SAITM.

A senior spokesperson for SAITM told The Island that they hadn’t been invited for the meeting.

The GMOA said that they explained that much publicized taking over of Dr. Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital (NFTH) would only cause further trouble. The GMOA and their supporters said that tangible action should be taken to stop taking more students as well as issuance of degrees immediately .

The AG, however said that issuance of minimum standards would be a problem in accordance with existing laws and regulations.

When the GMOA asked the AG why the AG Department didn’t have any issue when minimum standards were gazetted in 2009, the AG had remained silent, Dr. Aluthge said.

AG has explained that his officers had made representations in Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in line with advice received from the ministries of health, higher education as well as the UGC.

The GMOA expressed concern over a senior AG department official present there repeatedly walking up to the AG and advising him (SF)

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