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Accuses Rajitha of attempting to manipulate SLMC

The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) has written to President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe seeking a meeting to prevent Minister of Health, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne’s attempt to manipulate the medical education regulatory body, the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC)’s membership. The GMOA also commenced meeting all students in all faculties over the matter and their general committee would be meeting next week to decide on the options available for protest related actions. The SLMC’s membership is composed of a President nominated by the Minister of Health, eight persons elected by the faculty boards of the State medical faculties, eight persons elected by medical practitioners registered under Section 29 of the Medical (Amendment) Act, a person elected by persons registered under Section 41 of the said Act, a person elected by persons registered under Section 43 of the said Act, four persons nominated by the Minister, the director general of health services, and a person elected by the faculty board of the faculty of dental sciences. According to the GMOA, there are at present seven non-elect vacancies in the SLMC, which could be very easily manipulated by Dr. Senaratne in order to sabotage the ongoing Court case. The GMOA has meanwhile strongly protested the appointment of Prof. Colvin Gooneratne, a former United People’s Freedom Alliance nominee as a national list MP, as the President of the SLMC, a post previously held by Prof. Carlo Fonseka. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court granted the SLMC, leave to proceed. The British Medical Council (BMC), which is the highest authority governing medical education in the United Kingdom, has blacklisted the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) and therefore will not be registering SAITM students as qualified doctors. As his last trump, Dr. Senaratne has taken a clear step in favour of the SAITM by making the aforementioned appointment, when Wickremesinghe clearly instructed him not to do so and Sirisena had stated that he would not do anything to overrule the independence of the SLMC, Assistant Secretary of the GMOA, Dr. H. Naveen De Soysa said. He pointed out that they could not trust Prof. Gooneratne as he had voted in favour of the SLMC not appealing the Court of Appeal decision in this regard, adding that although not all SLMC members were in favour of the SAITM, such was in danger owing to the said appointment. “Dr. Senaratne, through the Attorney General’s Department, tried his level best to prevent leave to proceed being granted against appealing the Court of Appeal decision in favour of the SAITM. No politician in England tried to reverse the BMC’s decision as it is a technical one. The counsels for the Attorney General’s Department and the SAITM have stated that although the SLMC’s observations and recommendations may have technical validity unless the Minister of Health signs his/her approval, they would not have legal validity in this regard. Dr. Senaratne and Minister of Higher Education, Lakshman Kiriella are trying to register unqualified doctors. They are using a loophole in the legal system to compromise the standards of medical education. This is unethical. The anti-SAITM campaign has reached a critical and crucial juncture in terms of the quality of medical education and the lives of the patients,” Dr. De Soysa explained.