Speaker accepts JVP leader’s proposal to settle crisis

AHS degree dispute


By Saman Indrajith

Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa yesterday welcomed and appreciated a proposal made by JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake that a special parliamentary committee be appointed to look into the crisis situation with regard to the reduction of the duration of the Allied Health Sciences degree programme from four years to three.

Speaker Rajapaksa said the MP’s proposal was prudent and timely and many other problems, too, could be sorted out by appointing such committees comprising members of parliament from all parties.

The Speaker said so after MP Dissanayake had made a special statement.

MP Dissanayake said that the University of Peradeniya had a separate Faculty of Allied Health Sciences and it could offer a four-year degree course, but other universities that offer the same degree have found it difficult as they conducted the courses of study under the faculties of medical sciences. 

The MP said that the Government Medical Officers’ Association had demanded the reduction of one year from the four year degree programme.

The decision to conduct the degree programme four years had been taken by a panel of experts appointed by the Ministry of Higher Education.

"What right the GMOA has to demand to prune down one year from this degree programme. The involvement of the GMOA in this regard was very unjust", the MP said.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Nandimithra Ekanayake responding said that the decision to reduce one-year from the degree programme had not been taken by the ministry on its own. The ministry was forced to take that decision as there was a threat that the GMOA would mobilize all doctors strike. The ministry had no other option but to succumb to the pressure considering the plight of the patients.

"The Ministry of Higher Education agrees in principle that this degree should be a four-year one. This is a policy problem. We want to know why the all powerful ministry had given in before a union," MP Dissanayake said.

Deputy Minister Ekanayake: "If there is a strike in the harbor, we could deploy the Army and continue the work. What would we be doing if the doctors go on strike? We have no replacements."

MP Dissanayake: "University students have launched a staygraha and are on the roads for the past 135 days. Parliament should get involved to find a solution to this problem. I request the Speaker to appoint a committee comprising MPs to look into this problem. The stakeholders of this problem could be summoned before that committee. We could reach a consensus through negotiation."

Speaker Rajapaksa: "It is a good decision. Problems of this nature could be sorted out using such a mechanism. MP Dissanayake’s proposal is prudent and timely."

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