GMOA threatens TU action over SAITM

Published : 12:04 pm  February 3, 2017 | No comments so far |  | 


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 By Kalathma Jayawardhane   
The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday threatened to resort to major trade union action next week if its demands with regard to the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) in Malabe were not addressed.  

GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge told a media briefing that the GMOA took this decision following the unanimous approval of its Central Committee.

He said the GMOA would inform President Maithripala Sirisena and other relevant authorities to intervene in the matter in the coming days.
“The Court of Appeal on Tuesday directed the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) to register medical degree holders of the SAITM. It was the result of Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne’s irresponsible behaviour and his SAITM-biased stand,” he alleged.

He said the timely need was to secure the patients’ lives and added that the GMOA would stand to protect their lives at any cost. He also said nobody would prefer to get treated by a doctor whose standard was questionable.   

He said the health minister should amend his attitude towards this matter; “We will give a week’s time to all these authorities to provide us with a solution. On the other hand, we have complete faith on the judicial system that it would not allow to legalize an institute which has being disapproved by the SLMC,” he added.  

Meanwhile, GMOA media spokesman Dr. Naveen de Soyza said discussions were ongoing among several internationally recognized institutes and the GMOA on this matter.  

He said they would create a strong force to fight against this matter and added that discussions would be held with state university students, parents and several unions during this week.  



Respect and uphold the law

A day after the Court of Appeal decision allowing South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) MBBS graduates the right of provisional registration, SAITM Chairman Dr. Neville Fernando yesterday urged all authorities to respect and uphold the law.  

DM_20170203_A001-6While commending the Court of Appeal decision Dr. Fernando said in a statement that, “SAITM has always trusted the legal system of Sri Lanka and will take all necessary measures to ensure that the directives of the Court are upheld and that our students are treated fairly and given equal opportunity to practise as doctors in Sri Lanka.”  
The statement also stated;  

SAITM was recognized as a Degree Awarding Institute by an order published in Gazette Extraordinary No. 1721/19 dated 30/11/2011 and No. 1829/36 dated 26/09/2013, in terms of Section 25A of the Universities Act of 1978, and tabled in Parliament, to award the degree Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS).   

The journey has been filled with obstacles from the inception. I signed an MOU with the Western Provincial Council to provide clinical training at the Avissawella and Homagama Hospitals for the medical students of SAITM for which SAITM was willing to allocate funds to improve these hospitals.  

 However, the GMOA protested and we were unable to implement the MOU. I was not deterred by these obstacles, placed before SAITM by the GMOA. I built a hospital spending Rs. 2 billion to provide clinical training for my students. However, there were some training components that were available only in a government hospital, which the students of SAITM requested the Ministry of Health to provide them. 

Although the Hon. Minister of Health agreed in Courts to provide such training, this training did not materialize due to undue pressure from trade unions. The students had no option but to go to Courts against the Hon. Minister charging him for contempt of Court. 
The students were successful, when the Minister of Health agreed in Courts to provide access to Government hospitals in January 2016.   

The first batch of students passed out in May 2016 and applied for provisional registration from the SLMC to undergo internship training. The SLMC refused to accept their application. 

This led to another legal battle with the SLMC where a graduate from SAITM challenged the SLMC in court of appeal. Justice Vijith Malalgoda (PC) and S. Thurairajah (PC) of the Court of Appeal, in the landmark decision made on January 31, 2017 directed that provisional registration be allowed for SAITM MBBS graduates.




Uni. protest teargassed again

By Ajith Siriwardana   
Police yesterday used tear gas and water cannons to disperse a group of medical students who staged a protest march at Ceramic Junction in Colombo against the SAITM despite a court order to refrain from blocking roads of 12 congested places in Colombo and causing unnecessary public nuisance.   

The University students began their protest march from the Medical Faculty and tried to march towards the Presidential Secretariat when police used tear gas to disperse them.   

Meanwhile, another two protest campaigns were staged by the Ports Authority employees and disabled soldiers in Colombo Fort causing heavy traffic congestion in and around the Colombo city.   

Occasional closure of the Galle Road due to the Independence Day celebrations aggravated the traffic congestion in Colombo during the last couple of days.   

The Ports Authority employees were teargassed on Wednesday also at Lotus Road in Colombo while engaging in protests against the alleged sale of the Eastern Jetty of the Colombo Port.   



GMOA to conduct 4-hour token strike today

By Lahiru Pothmulla  and Shehan Chamika Silva   
Despite the late-night release of the 21 medical students taken into custody, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) said yesterday that it would go ahead with its 4-hour token strike today. 

The medical students were arrested yesterday during a protest held in Colombo against the SAITM in Malabe.   
Following the arrest of the students, the trade union issued a statement announcing that it would launch a strike from 8.00 a.m. to 12.00 noon. today demanding the release of the students.   

However, the arrested students were released by Colombo Additional Magistrate Jeyaram Trotsky late yesterday on two sureties of Rs.200,000 each.   

When contacted and asked whether the GMOA would call off its strike as the students had been released, the union said ‘no.’   
“We are still going ahead with the strike, though the students were released. We condemn and oppose the brutal attack on these students during the protest,” Dr. Haritha Aluthge of the GMOA said.   

He averred that the emergency services at hospitals — including at maternity, renal, cancer, children/s and military wards — would not be disrupted because of the strike.   

Dr. Aluthge said emergency branch meetings of the GMOA would be held during the period of the token strike.