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Private Medical Faculty for national or personal interests?

Once again the smear machine against doctors, medical students and the nation’s healthcare system has started to roll. Once again, it is the same scenario repeating itself, where certain individuals, already soaked in wealth, capitalise on the noble profession of medicine, try to further their personal agendas, by creating a private medical faculty in Malabe. Only difference this time around is that it is coming in the form of patriotism, unblemished love for the country and everything else so familiar with election slogans. Not surprisingly, it is a former politician who is aiming to compromise the medical system, in the name of giving equal opportunities to all students, rich and poor alike, with a 6million rupee medical crash course. The fact that it is the same profession that they stigmatise and bring disrepute using all available media, is the very same profession they are attempting to gain a foothold on, is ironical. But it seems to be the endless financial opportunities they see in this profession and not the wellbeing of the patient which makes them want to enter the medical field by hook or by crook. A few points should be enough to expose the true intentions behind this major effort to infiltrate the medical field and exploit it for the personal gain by certain unscrupulous individuals.

Each year, more than 100,000 students, who sit for A/L exam, do not gain entrance to state universities. According to its creators, this private medical faculty is going to be a solution for it. It is so absurd as to enroll just a hundred students each year, which is less than a fraction of the total left out, and still call yourself the solution for the lack of capacity in state universities. What is more interesting is that these students must have the capability to afford more than 6million rupees, and students with such an immense financial capacity, invariably have countless opportunities for higher education both locally and abroad and, therefore, are not part of the problem even if they do or do not get selected to state universities. It is not the same as enrolling hundred students who are unable to scrape out such a large sum of money and will remain with no opportunity for higher education. It is these students that one should focus on, if you really want the world to believe that you are true patriots.

Medicine is a noble profession that requires dedication, commitment, hard work and passion for one to become a doctor. Currently, it is the A/L exam that chooses the best and brightest of our students to various tough disciplines including medicine, irrespective of race, religion or whether one’s parents could afford millions of rupee or not. It is these individuals that maintain our nation’s healthcare comparable to the western world including the US and UK. But the founders of the proposed private medical faculty have stated that there will be no cut-off mark for entrance. They state their faculty gives an equal opportunity for everyone who has missed the state requirement for the medical profession.

Sri Lanka being a third world nation, it is obvious that spotting a student capable of dishing out millions of rupees and at the same time has done the A/Ls well, would be harder than spotting the needle in the haystack. So, how deep down in the results sheet will this private medical faculty go in search of our future doctors, with our country’s health and the lives of the patients directly in the line? By having no cut­off mark at all, how can one guarantee the standard and reliability of such a medical institute. By giving prominence to wealth, and by making 6million rupees the only inclusion criterion, the intellectual capability of enrollees is totally ignored, and strikes a severe blow to the medical profession which rests on the fundamental pillars of analytical ability, memory and competence. This is another instance where the equal opportunity, supposedly to be provided to all students comes crashing down in a heap. What are they going do to the large number of students who are stranded because they have just missed the cut-off mark and are unable to scrape out millions of rupees? Are they going to pretend that these students are non-existent, in their way of giving equal opportunities?

Furthermore, the proposed private medical faculty has not obtained the approval of the Ministry of Higher Education. The magnitude of the role played by money is highlighted by the fact that this private medical fatuity is a project approved by the Board of Investment. By initiating such a project with financial profits as its measure of success and not the passing out of competent and qualified doctors, are we going to surrender our healthcare system to a few business-minded individuals and politicians who know next nothing about the practice of medicine? Do we want our healthcare system to be controlled by amateurs who are good in money matters but are not so good in medicine?

Another fascinating argument by those who promote private medical faculties is that Oxford, Harvard and Yale are also private universities. How on earth can this medical faculty somewhere in Malabe, be ever compared with these great universities? The naivety and ignorance of these individuals is clearly exposed by their thought that any private medical faculty will certainly be as good as these universities. However,we must add that, we didn’t need an Oxford, a Harvard or a Yale to elevate our healthcare system that can stand proudly with any healthcare system in the developed world including the USA and the UK where the greatest education institutes are largely located. That is because the factor of wealth plays an extremely low-key role in the quality of medicine. It is the attitude, competence and intelligence of our healthcare worker that bridged the gap between our country and the first world. And that is why we should thwart any attempt by anyone, to give money a dominant role over a person’s intellect.
The prime goal of an individual passing out from such a private medical faculty would be to recover his initial investment of 6million rupees. Such a doctor would be driven by financial incentives and not by his patients’ wellbeing. How can the element of compassion, responsibility and understanding of the patient, which is vital and almost inseparable from the medical profession, be guaranteed by an individual whose prime motive is personal financial recovery and not patients’ recovery. When you also consider the quality of the doctors passing out from such an institute where standards are severely compromised, the consequences to the healthcare system would be detrimental. Mismanagement, prescription errors, overdosing and loads of other medical errors would surface and are likely to multiply in occurrence and as a result will prolong hospital stay, increase hospital admissions and create an assortment of dilemmas which would severely burden and even handicap the nation’s healthcare system. With a direct threat to the lives of patients and the general quality of health in the country reduced due to inept and financially driven healthcare professionals, the meager amount of foreign exchange spared in the country by a few students not seeking foreign education due to local private medical faculties, will be easily outweighed.

When a former politician says he is going to do something with unsurpassable love and affection towards his countrymen overflowing, it does not take rocket science to comprehend what is really meant. We, as a nation, are only too familiar with this kind of rhetoric. Why is that a private educational facility the only way these individuals have, when it comes to serving the country? Why is it that they want to serve a hundred students who are already well off, and call that, ‘giving back’ to their motherland, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of our children all over the country clueless about their future? I leave it upon the reader to decide as to whether these institutions are created with true patriotism and an urgent need by these individuals to see all students gain an equal opportunity, or is to expand their already fat pockets with a 6million rupee compromised medical course.

Student from Faculty of Medicine


Humanity and animalism

I am happy to respond to Mr. Bertram Perera’s letter on the above topic appearing in The Nation recently.
Readers, please correct me if I am wrong on what I am going to state. The Noble Buddha was against any form of killing not only against wanton killing like hunting for sport as stated by Mr. Perera in his letter quoted above. The Buddha was an ‘embodiment’ of ‘Ahimsa’ (Compassion) and ‘Metha’ (Loving kindness) and hence, it is difficult to accept that the Buddha would have advocated human beings to consume/eat meat when said ‘Eat what you need and use whatever you need for modest living.’
There is abundant evidence that the Buddha in the latter part of his life denounced the practice of meat eating. The Iankavatra Sutra and the Dhammapada are highly critical of the heartless practice of killing animals for food. The Lankavatra Sutra eloquently denounces non-vegetarianism in no uncertain terms.

To the query by Mr. Perera as to ‘what is the farmer to do with the spent animal that has outlived its ‘usefulness,’ my answer is mother ‘Nature’ will know how to deal with this problem/situation by bringing about a ‘manageable’ population size of the spent animal (as quoted by Mr. Perera) through deaths occurring from such natural causes such as ageing, disease, injury/trauma in a manner similar to what happens to the human population all over the world!

Any thought, word or deed that directly or indirectly results in the destruction of life is surely contrary to the spirit of Buddhism where much emphasis is placed on purity, non-violence, compassion and respect for life.
I totally agree with Mr. Perera for the following statement/remark in his letter viz., “It is inexplicable why Buddhist society does not worry about the hog, the goat, the turkey, the duck and the chicken to the extent it worries about the cow. They too are living and feel pain. Is it because the cow provides milk to the human baby? ”

In this context, I would like to draw the attention of you readers of The Nation, a popular misconception that prevails in the minds of many Hindus that it is only cow’s flesh (beef) that is taboo or forbidden to them. This is because they consider the cow to be a ‘sacred’ animal. This is a travesty of the truth: it may be so in ‘popular Hinduism’ but not so according to the ‘tenets’ of true or properly understood Hinduism. To God/The Creator the lives of all animals are ‘on par with each other!’

Prof. M. Sivasuriya
Colombo 8


A salute to our heroes’ march to victory

Members of the Sinhala Women’s Welfare & Development Foundation (SWF) extend grateful thanks to the three Armed Forces, the Police, the Civil Defence Force and other Committed Officers of the Ministry of Defence, who helped bring about a victorious conclusion to the ruthless menace of LTTE terrorism that ravaged the nation for three decades. We commend the endeavour of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who took up endless challenges, while providing invincible leadership to eliminate “the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world”

When, after 30 years of sufferance, war trauma and terror ended officially on May 18, 2009, people took to the streets to join in the public revelry and rejoice sans inhibitions, divisiveness and discrimination, joyously extending trays of ‘kiribath’ and sweetmeats, flags and pamphlets. Their message was clear, “We are one humanitarian community. Lets all rejoice together”.
It is not that we welcome terror, death, violence, war trauma and suffering, on the contrary, a suffering nation longed to savour triumph with due regard for peace. Our gratitude and thanks go also to the thousands of mothers’ who bore their grief, whilst longing for their sons, popularly called “War Heroes.” Soldiers who laid their life in the battlefield, we remember for their bravery and sacrifices made. All others maimed and blinded by war violence and in other forms, we wish them speedy recovery.
SWF is happy to place on record that the end of the war is of special significance to our Women’s Organisation. Established in 1985, we remain the only Non-Government Organisation to have implemented welfare and rehabilitation projects in the North and East since 1987. We remain as civil witnesses to the worst scenarios during our travels when the EPDP, PLOTE, TELO, IPKF traversed the North and Eastern districts.

Then known as the “Sinhala Kanthabhivurdi Sangvidanaya” (SKS), our patriotic services were commended by the Ministry of Defence, the Government Agents and Armed Forces.

SKS, under the leadership of Indrani Iriyagolle, visited Army Camps, Welfare Centres, war affected families and villages, to provide food and a variety of other needs. The Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Corps greatly benefited from the range of items such as hundreds of thermos flasks, medical supplies, mobile generators, electrical lighting equipment, rolls of electric wire, water pumps and hoses, and a range of personal needs to the Army Camps, and to soldiers suffering in their homes. Internally Displaced Women were trained in masonry and carpentry, to repair ravaged buildings and houses. The security forces often provided us travel to Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Ampara, Wakkarai, Wahalkada, Welikanda, and camps in close proximity to Thoppigala. Counselling services was high priority for both soldiers and civilian families. Pre Sinhala New Year visits to the N & E with sweetmeats, were common gestures, before SWF members enjoyed Sinhala New Year in Colombo.
Latterly, President R. Premadasa set up a NGO Coordinating Committee under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence. Networking, coordination and communication improved rapidly thereafter, enabling increased donations in kind from overseas.
Hundreds of letters delivered to soldiers from school girls in Colombo district, and expressions of patriotic sentiment in verse and prose, helped ease the depression and social exclusion of the soldiers in jungles. Schools we visited in Vavuniya, Batticaloa and Ampara had never been visited for over 10 years by Dept. Officials. Many changes were effected after our frequent visits, amidst great risks.

Regular visits were sustained by SWF until 2005. After the tsunami disaster, SWF shifted its focus to rehabilitation and strengthening livelihoods for women in Trincomalee, Matara and Galle.

The SWF workload in the North & East was enormous, services invaluable, and personal fulfilment remain as long lasting memories. May President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s call to build the nation, reach all our countrymen and countrywomen. This, however, would also be counterproductive, unless and until the people are made aware that insult, pernicious injury, divisiveness, viciousness and rancour among communities and political parties are set aside. Pursuit of democratic ideals, the concept of the Rule of Law, tempered with compassion and empathy for all citizens, could well be the “MIDDLE PATH” values needed at this juncture.

Indrani Iriyagolla
Sinhala Women’s Welfare and Development Foundation (SWF)


Tax payer taxed for election propaganda

When an election is around the corner, posters of prospective contestants will start to come up on the walls of every building with photographs of the contestants, some grinning and some with tight lips. After the election, it will be the tax payers’ money that will be spent to remove these posters. Why should the tax payers from Dondra Head to Point Pedro pay for the removal of these posters put up by these contestants for their propaganda.

Will the Commissioner of Elections see that the poor tax payers’ money is not spent for this purpose. Even after the removal, the tax payers on whose walls the posters had been posted will have to spend money to whitewash the walls which they would have done a couple of months ago for the New Year. Why should they be made to spend for these contestants’ propagandas to win elections.


Dress of school children

Numerous views have been expressed with regard to the dress for children in schools. Private schools have their own designated dress and government schools, up to about 1980, also had a uniform dress but after that a dress linked to religion of wearing a cap for boys and a headdress for girls have been introduced with the connivance of the Ministry and Department of Education of 1980s.

Though claimed as a ‘traditional dress,’ the evidence of use of school dress before 1980 in all parts of the country cannot justify the claim. It is only a Middle East dress sense. But politicians will not stand to reason, they decide on the voting capability. As such, the past students should, without being silent, bring pressure on the government and the opposition that the old customs and the standard dress should prevail.

And if the Minister of Education is still adamant, the only alternative is to request that the headdresses should be worn only up to the gate of the school and in the premises and in the classrooms, the headdress should not be worn. But the Muslim ladies and specially the lady Muslim Minister who attended schools before 1980, irrespective of the decision, should tell the public the dress they wore to school.
Past student


Kosgashandiya Colombo Municipal Council Market

The above multi-storeyed market, with the exterior completely covered by gray coloured Alubond cladding, put up long time ago at the Kosgashandiya junction close to the bus stop (where buses plying on route numbers 104, 178,154 proceeding towards Orugodawatte stop), is still closed. It is very likely, that the municipality has not been successful in marketing the stalls. Isn’t it a waste of invaluable public funds just to keep it closed?

If there had been no bidders, I suggest that they convert this building, if possible, to a housing complex with the minimum changes so that the cost incurred is kept to a minimum. For which there will enough applicants, as there is dearth of houses especially in the city. In the alternative, I suggest that the Municipality sell it to the Private sector Companies, which have been successful in managing Supermarkets.

The other options may be use it as a place for recreation /community centre –indoor games, etc or why not put up a public library, instead of just keeping it closed. Hope that the Mayor or the Special Commissioner will act fast and put the building to some good use.

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3


Thanks to President

I salute you sir for your brave endeavour to our motherland, Sri Lanka. We are ever greatful to our war heroes who fought and laid down their lives.
The future of us, children, is bright now. The future of our country lies in the hands of the young. And we,children, have inherited a safe and a peaceful county. Thank you so much sir.
We offer our heartfelt gratitude for making our future safe from the terrors of war.

Thank you again sir.
Peace to all.

Abdul Basit
Colombo 11.




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