SAITM graduates stake their  right to practise medicine

by Dilanthi Jayamanne

Students of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) defending their right to serve as doctors in Sri Lanka said yesterday that they were prepared to face any unbiased examination.

 Addressing the media at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI), Dilshan Fernando Medical Graduate of SAITM said that they were not planning to enter the medical profession through the back door. "What we want is the equal right to showcase our capability as good doctors. Students enrolled for the MBBS Degree programme were those who sat for their G.C.E. Advanced level Examination in the Bio Science stream. They also had to fulfil the criteria approved by the Ministry of Higher Education and the University Grants Commission (UGC)."

 Fernando, who was among the first batch of medical students enrolled by SAITM, Malabe, said sinister efforts were being made to tarnish the image of their institution and students. However, none of them could question the quality of graduates the SAITM produced. They were tutored by those who had served state universities and state run educational institutions.

Those who studied in state universities were educated with the tax money paid by the people. But, in the case of SAITM students, their parents had to pay. Free education should be expanded in Sri Lanka. However, a student should have the right to choose how he or she wished to be educated, the SAITM MBBS graduate said.

 He said a majority of those who studied at SAITM belonged to middle class families who had either invested their earnings or sold their properties to educate their children. The institution had also awarded scholarships worth Rs. 500 million to deserving students.

 SAITM MBBS Graduate, Tharindu Ruwanpathiranage observed that the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) was legally bound to provide them with the provisional registration as intern medical officers. However, it had not done so, compelling one of the SAITM Medical graduates to seek legal intervention. "We are positive that the truth will finally prevail," he said.

 Responding to questions regarding provisional registration and clinical training, Dilshan Fernando said that he was unable to state whether the SLMC was under pressure to deny those who had completed their MBBS Degree at SAITM provisional registration. "But at the beginning we were assured that we would be given registration."

 He said the medical graduates had received their clinical training at the Avissawella Hospital, Kaduwela MoH, the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital Nawaloka and Asiri private hospitals.

 He observed that those who spoke so vociferously about maintaining the quality of doctors such as the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) should have stepped in to ensure that SAITM students too received a quality clinical training in some of the government hospitals. He accused the government doctors’ union of contradicting itself by claiming to be keen on guaranteeing the quality of doctors while working towards hindering the training of a locally based degree awarding SAITM.

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