SAITM denies GMOA claim

by Dasun Edirisinghe

The Private Medical College (PMC) in Malabe, (South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine - SAITM), yesterday denied the Government Medical Officers’ Association’s claim that it had not been recognized by the Sri Lanka Medical Council. They also denied that the University Grants Commission’s approval was obtained through personal intervention.

The GMOA’s accusations were published on the front page in The Island newspaper on Tuesday (Aug. 30).

Vice Chancellor of the PMC Prof. Malkanthi Chandrasekara told The Island that two years ago SAITM sought the advice of SLMC regarding its recognition of the degree in medicine.

As there were no provisions in the Medical Ordinance to monitor non-state medical colleges in Sri Lanka, SAITM was advised by the SLMC to obtain UGC degree awarding status that would enable the SLMC to monitor the status of SAITM, she said.

Prof. Chandrasekara said that that a UGC team visited the SAITM early this year to evaluate the institution and the teaching programme.

"The committee consisted of high officials of UGC, State Universities and the SLMC," Dr. Chandrasekera said adding that the committee was satisfied with the standards of SAITM and recommended that the UGC give it degree awarding status.

She said that this decision was not influenced by anyone as a personal favour, as alleged by the GMOA.

Currently, SAITM is building its own hospital with 1002 beds according to the SLMC criteria for clinical training of SAITM medical students. The hospital will be completed in 2012.

"Once this is completed we will apply to the SLMC for recognition," she said.

Answering a query, she said that at present professors and senior lecturers from State medical faculties are working as consultants and visiting staff in addition to the permanent staff of SAITM.

They are mostly on sabbatical leave and are patriotic individuals who have opted to serve their own motherland forgoing the opportunity of earning much more in other foreign countries, the academic said, adding that this was equivalent to private practice done by the medical officers in the government sector which is accepted as a norm.

According to her, SAITM does not want to declare war with any associations, but the vision of SAITM is to produce high quality doctors with character.

Prof. Chandrasekara asked the GMOA to visit SAITM and clear all misconceptions.

SAITM will be the first non-State medical faculty in Sri Lanka which has taken the initiative to support the policy of the Government in promoting the country as the Educational hub of Asia.

However, the GMOA said that the VC of the PMC is a member of a standing committee of the UGC and she was also included in the team that visited to SAITM before giving it degree awarding status.

GMOA assistant secretary Dr. Sankalpa Marasinghe asked how they could say there was no personal intervention, when she too, visited SAITM with the UGC.

"They have already recruited four batches to the PMC and until complete the construction of their own hospital how could the present students do their clinical practices," she asked.

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