The nine-member committee appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena to implement the proposed solutions to resolve the issue surrounding the Medical Faculty of the South Asian Institute of Technology and medicine (SAITM) met for the first time on Thursday in the parliamentary complex.
Deputy Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Dr. Harsha de Silva chaired the Committee along with the committee members and five observers representing the Government Medical Officers’ Association, Medical Faculty Lecturers’ Association and Medical Students’ Parents Association and SAITM.
The other members of the Committee are Secretary to the Ministry of Health Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary to the Ministry of Higher Education and Highways D. C. Dissanayake, Chairman, University Grant Commission Prof. Mohan de Silva, Chairman, Sri Lanka Medical Council Prof. Colvin Gunaratne, Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo Prof. Lakshman Dissanayake, Vice Chancellor, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Prof. Sampath Amaratunga, Dean, University of Colombo Prof. Jenifer Perera, and Dean, University of Kelaniya Prof. Nilanthi de Silva.
Dr. De Silva said the meeting was very productive and helped to establish a good working relationship in a Facebook post.
The parents’ union representative and the Deputy Minister had agreed on abolishing of SAITM using a sunset mechanism.
According to the Minister the members have agreed that this committee will guide the implementation of the government solution to resolve the SITAM issue and there was no need for any more committees.
They have agreed that as the first step the Minimum Standards for medical education should be approved, gazetted and tabled in Parliament before the end of this month.
The members have agreed to start work on considering options for the sunset mechanism to absorb the current students of SAITM as it gets abolished. They have agreed to work on the establishment of the non-state not-for-profit after that and complete all the tasks by 31 December 2017.
According to the President’s set of proposals, the chronology of implementing the mentioned solutions shall be, as follows:
i. Ministry of Health to gazette the agreed Minimum Standards for Medical Education and Training, and place before Parliament,
ii. SAITM, the selected party and lending institutions to reach agreement on the transfer of assets, liabilities, staff and students to the proposed not-for-profit entity.
iii. Establish the new entity, under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education and the University Grants Commission.
iv. Abolishing SAITM: Transfer assets, liabilities, staff and students of SAITM to the new entity.
v. Establishment of new not-for-profit medical education degree awarding institute.
It is expected to immediately appoint a Committee of high level officials to coordinate the implementation of the above measures. This entire process shall be mandatorily completed by December 31st 2017.