The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) yesterday charged that the Higher Education Ministry would cripple the medical faculties of local universities by giving legal recognition to the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) a Malabe private medical faculty, which has been the subject of controversy.
Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake last month signed a gazette notification giving legal recognition to SAITM which GMOA spokesman Dr. Upul Gunasekara said was a bad precedent for other institutions which may be established in the future.
He asked why the minister was not paying as much attention to the medical faculties of local universities such as the Rajarata and Batticaloa universities where there was a dire shortage of facilities.
“Why is the minister pushing so hard to legalise this private medical university through gazette notifications, by appointing committees and providing loan schemes when in the first place it does not have the legal right to be there? We should instead focus on the medical faculties at our local universities which are in need of attention,” Dr. Gunasekara said. “The Higher Education Ministry’s decision to legalise it will cripple the medical profession in the country.”
He said all the qualified university lecturers were part time lecturers at medical faculties of local universities, which would come under threat if the ministry went ahead with its decision to give legal recognition to such institutions in future. He said local universities would suffer from a shortage of lecturers as they will choose to work in the private institutions.
He said these lecturers are working at the private university on a temporary basis or are on sabbatical leave which usually is only provided for two years for research purposes. The rest of the staff, he said are unqualified lecturers who have done their studies overseas and that many of them have failed that Act16 examination which gives legal recognition to medically qualified doctors in Sri Lanka. He said the institution’s vice chancellor was also holding a part time position at the institution as she works at the Peradeniya University as the Professor of Anatomy. Meanwhile the Health Ministry and the Sri Lankan Medical Council have still not given their approval to the Malabe private medical faculty. (Olindhi Jayasundere)