The Government yesterday made its stand clear on the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) amidst widespread protests and strikes calling for the abolition of the controversial private medical college.
In a communiqué, the Higher Education Ministry Acting Secretary Jayanthi Wijethunga said the Government has taken the following decisions on the SAITM issue subject to the judgment of the Court of Appeal and the subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court as sought by the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC).
1. SAITM students who have already passed the final MBBS examination will be given a further period of clinical training in surgery, medicine, gynecology and obstetrics, psychiatry and pediatrics, one month each in duration, at the Homagama and Avissawella hospitals.
2. Subsequent to this training, candidates will undergo a mandatory examination conducted for granting provisional registration under the joint supervision of the SLMC and the University Grants Commission.
3. The Ministry of Health will gazette the minimum standards for medical education in Sri Lanka submitted by the Sri Lanka Medical Council with the approval of the Attorney General.
4. The Ministry of Health will initiate the proceedings to bring the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital under the Ministry of Health and will continue to run as a Teaching Hospital.
The question of clinical training has been a long running bone of contention in the SAITM debate, and the Government’s decision to allow SAITM graduates to undergo training in two state hospitals is expected to finally put the matter to rest.
The proposed mandatory examination prior to granting provisional registration to SAITM graduates under the supervision of the SLMC should prove controversial, however, as the institute has been notoriously adverse to an SLMC-conducted exam.
The decision to bring the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital under the Ministry of Health is a new development in the saga that will likely be a fresh talking point as SAITM graduates now await the next step.
Meanwhile, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) yesterday issued a statement rejecting the proposals made by the Government to solve the SAITM issue.