Tuesday September 18, 2018

Sri Lanka's embattled private teaching hospital up for sale

Mar 08, 2018 19:12 PM GMT+0530 | 3 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - Sri Lanka's Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital belonging to the country's only private medical school is up for sale valued at 3.55 billion rupees.

The immediate sale of the 1,000-bed hospital is based on a government valuation. A loan from Bank of Ceylon for 2.5 billion rupees can be transferred, an advertisement placed by the hospital said.

The teaching hospital is part of Sri Lanka's embattled private medical school, South Asia Institute of Technology and Medicine in Malabe (SAITM). Since its inception in 2009, medical professionals bodies have opposed the existence of the private med school.

"There are two groups opposing us,” says SAITM's founder Dr Neville Fernando.

“The medical council and the government doctors’ union (Government Medical Officers’ Association, popularly called the GMOA). They want to keep the profession to themselves because they can mint money with private practice.

"There is a shortage of doctors in the country, and these people want to keep the profession closed and all to themselves," he said.

Sri Lanka government finally took over the SAITM medical faculty in 2017 giving into striking government doctors and student bodies of public-funded medical schools objecting to it being private and for-profit.

The Sri Lanka Medical Council, the self-regulatory body of the profession, has also refused to license SAITM's doctors preventing them from finding work here, mostly on the grounds that the private med school did not offer adequate clinical and field training.

The GMOA threatened strike action when SAITM med students were allowed to undergo clinical training at government hospitals, prompting Fernando to build the teaching hospital at Malabe, borrowing 2 billion rupees from Bank of Ceylon.

A new fee levying medical college to award medical degrees will admit students from 2019, in association with Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology, an existing not-for-profit degree awarding school.

Existing medical students will be allowed to complete their degrees but have to sit a separate exam to be licensed by the SLMC, which tax-payer funded med students don't have to sit.

Public funded medical schools are monitored by the SLMC which does not disclose quality standards.

Sri Lanka needs more doctors, particularly specialists.

In 2015, Sri Lanka had one doctor for 1,100 people, above the WHO minimum standard but below countries with good healthcare systems: the UK had a doctor for every 357 people, in Spain 208, Germany 257 and France 312. Sri Lanka is even behind the world average of 650 people per doctor. (COLOMBO, February 08, 2018)


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  1. Raji March 09, 07:45 AM

    Very sad indeed. Can we expect this weak govt. to have resolved this complex matter amicably with GMOA, when they cant even contain disturbance in one small areaOne thing is certain. If MR came back to power in 2015, Sri Lanka would have seen the advent of Private Medical Colleges.by now. Sadly the arrogance of Health Minister his family and Prime Minister(ETCA in particular) drove the GMOA away from the govt

  2. keith wije March 08, 10:34 AM

    How Sad It is. In my lifetime, Dr. Nevil Fernando is one of the rarest kind individual I ever met. so, we got him to parliament.. coming back to present.. The man of wisdom should admonish others he should give advice and should prevent others from doing wrong such a man is held dear by the good he is disliked only by the bad.

  3. Jay March 08, 07:53 AM

    We need more private medical colleges. Otherwise need to cancel the District basis in AL to get to medical colleges. Let me explain. I studied in Colombo and had well enough marks to go to medical college, but due to unfair district basis avoided me. If there were private medical college I could have attended. So this the choice. Have more private medical colleges or cancel the district basis to enter universities. I am well in a foreign country now. Here lot of privater medical schools. Sri Lankan need to thing globally.

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