JVP stages march demanding abolition of private medical college


by Dasun Edirisinghe

JVP-led health sector trade unions and student unions yesterday protested opposite the Health Ministry after staging a protest march demanding the abolition of Malabe Private Medical College (South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine - SAITM).

The protest march which started from the Colombo Medical Faculty ended opposite the Health Ministry on the Deans Road creating a heavy traffic jam in the Maradana and Town Hall areas.

All Ceylon Medical Officers’ Association (ACMOA), All Ceylon Health Services Union (ACHSU) and Medical Faculty Students Action Committee (MFSAC) organised the protest.

General Secretary of the ACHSU Gamini Kumarasinghe told The Island that they had been compelled to protest as the present government, too, was bent on privatising the free education and helping sell medical degrees.

He said when they demonstrated opposite the Health Ministry, Minister Rajitha Senaratne had given them a discussion which ended inconclusively.

"We decided to continue our protests against SAITM as the minister did not respond positively to our demand," Kumarasinghe said.

He said Minister Senaratne had informed them that he (minister) could not do anything if the University Grants Commission granted the SAITM.

Minister Senaratne, Health Ministry Secretary and Director General of Health Services attended the discussion from the government side while General Secretary of the ACMOA Dr. Asanga Wickremesinghe, General Secretary of the ACHSU Gamini Kumarasinghe, ACMOA Senior Vice President Dr. R. A. Chandrasena and two medical undergraduates from the Colombo and Sri Jayewardenepura Medical Faculties representing the MFSAC had attended the discussion. Health Ministry Spokesman Nipun Ekanayake said the Health Minister had informed unionists at the discussion that the health ministry could not abolish the SAITM, but anyone could move the courts against it.

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