The issue of providing clinical training in government hospitals for the students of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) still remains unresolved, parents of students complain.
An agreement was reached in the Supreme Court following a Fundamental Rights petition filed by five students of the SAITM, requesting clinical training at the State hospitals which was taken up before a two -judge bench in September last year. The petitioners who had cited the Minister of Health, Minister of Higher Education, University Grants Commission (UGC) and ten officials as respondents, later withdrew the petition, during the court proceedings following the agreement.
However, the agreement is yet to see fruition as the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine is accused of ignoring the Supreme Court order. The SAITM has been riddled with criticism and controversy since its inception in 2009. Despite having their own teaching hospital, the SAITM is requesting limited access to clinical training in the State hospitals in order to maintain standards. They claim that they cannot give their students the exposure in respect of the National Immunization Programs and clinical aspects of Forensic Medicine at private healthcare facilities.
Speaking to The Nation, the SAITM Medical Faculty Parents Forum Convener, Gemunu Wijeratne accused the Ministry of Health of delaying the provision of State hospitals for students of the SAITM due to various political involvements. “We received the agreement in writing from the Ministry of Health last September following the fundamental rights case. We have also sent three letters-of-demand to the Ministry for which we received no response,” Wijeratne said.
When The Nation contacted the Secretary to the Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medicine Dr. DMRB Dissanayake, he said that he could not comment on the matter as they had not come to a final decision regarding the provision of hospitals for training.
Meanwhile, Registrar of the SAITM, Husni Hussain said that despite the SAITM building their own hospital for clinical training of their students, the academia believed that the students still need at least one month’s training in a government hospital. “The students after completing their education will be serving as interns in government hospitals; therefore they need this kind of exposure for at least a month. The Attorney General’s Department has also advised the Ministry to provide these students with the necessary facilities, but nothing has taken place so far. We are waiting for the appointment of a new Minister of Health to take up the issue with the Ministry again,” She explained.