Health Minister and GMOA issue contradictory statements

by Dasun Edirisinghe

Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said that the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) did not oppose the Private Medical Colleges, but wanted the private medical education standerdised.

He said a GMOA delegation led by its President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya had met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Monday evening and he, too, had attended the discussion.

"The GMOA questioned the standards of the Malabe Private Medical College at the discussion, but they did not oppose it," Dr. Senaratne said adding that doctors were divided over the Malabe Private Medical College, (South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine – SAITM) issue.

Dr. Senaratne said the SAITM students had been allowed to do their clinical training in government health facilities according to a court order.

Although the SAITM had not been recognised by the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), the main accusation of the GMOA, it had the approval of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the minister said.

The Minister said that he also wanted to change the selection criteria as regards SAITM and it should be based on the Z-score rankings and it should be common for all higher educational institutions. "I proposed it to be added to the Budget proposals 2016, but the Finance Minister did not comply," Dr. Senaratne said.

Meanwhile, GMOA said it had not accepted the SAITM and their stance on the private medical colleges remained unchanged. GMOA Secretary Dr. Nalinda Herath said Health Minister Dr. Senaratne was misleading the public by issuing statements that GMOA did not oppose private medical colleges.

"We made clear our stance to the Prime Minister at Monday’s meeting," Dr. Herath said, adding that the PM promised to take a decision after studying facts.

He said the GMOA also decided to go to courts against Health Minister and Secretary of the Ministry over the SAITM issue.

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