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Sri Lanka health minister appoints committee to probe medical regulator SLMC

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi has appointed a five-member committee to probe the conduct of the country’s medical profession regulator the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) following a purported series of complaints.

In a statement issued this afternoon (16), the minister said she had received a number of complaints from various quarters on the conduct of the SLMC, with some parties calling for a restoration of its status as an independent body.

According to the statement, among the complaints is a series of incidents related to a controversial delisting of several internationally recognised foreign universities.

Other complaints include delayed elections to vacant positions within the SLMC hierarchy, the alleged registration of doctors who have not fulfilled the required minimum educational qualifications, the Postponement of ERPM examination for the registration of students with foreign medical degrees, and hearing complaints within the SLMC which are outside its scope and existing laws.

Earlier this month it was reported that the SLMC had decided to delist three Russian universities – namely the Patrice Lumumba University, Pirogov Russian National Research Medical University and Tver State Medical University – that award full scholarships to Sri Lankan students.

Later the Russian Embassy in Sri Lanka in a statement said that the Russian Federation is “concerned about the decision to remove three prominent Russian State Universities” from the approved list.

The press release said that the delisting had taken place “without prior information, despite the fact that the SLMC held several meetings with the officials of these Russian universities who came down to Sri Lanka throughout the past years, and regular payments were made by the universities to maintain the membership.”

The Russian statement also said that the embassy hopes that the SLMC decision “does not influence the practice of providing Russian state scholarships to Sri Lankan citizens in the future, causing a loss of opportunities to young individuals to pursue their higher education free of charge in prominent Russian universities.”

In response to the Russian embassy’s statement, Chairman of SLMC Professor Harendra de Silva said in an interview with the privately owned Newsfirst television network that delisting the three prominent Russian universities was “a mistake”.

He said the names of the three universities had been cut from the list on the SLMC website before “a final decision had been made by the Council.”

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De Silva further said there is a committee that examines the suitability of universities for Sri Lankan students and makes recommendations to the SLMC.

“The Council has to examine the recommendations and finally send them to the Minister, who has the last word on the matter,” he said.(Colombo/Sep16/2020)

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