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The Inter-University Students’ Federation (IUSF) demanded that President Maithripala Sirisena make clear his position and stance with regards to the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM).

Convener of the IUSF Lahiru Weerasekera said that Owner of the SAITM and a private hospital, Dr. Neville Fernando proposing to Sirisena in writing that his hospital be used as a semi-Government hospital was all part of a conspiracy to halt the SAITM being abolished.

If it is made semi-Government, then the Government would have to allocate funds to it, instead of developing existing State hospitals like the one in Ratnapura to possess the standards of a teaching hospital in order to meet the demand for doctors in the country, he added.

Monies will be charged from patients if it becomes semi-Government and then how will Dr. Fernando and the Government split the profits, he queried.

“When he was the Minister of Health, Sirisena way back in 2011 sent a letter to Dr. Fernando praising the establishment of what Sirisena called a private teaching hospital. Sirisena should not have done this. The said letter is part of evidence in an ongoing court case. In the following year, Sirisena stated that it was not a teaching hospital. There is some underhand deal behind all this. We know how incumbent Minister of Health Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has appeared on behalf of this private institution. How can public funds be used without public approval? We are conducting a continuous satyagraha at present and we will organize protest marches soon,” he pointed out.