The Federation of Faculty of Medicine Teachers’ Associations of Sri Lanka (FFMTA) demands that Ministry of Health immediately withdraw the gazette 2056/44 of January 26, 2018, published by the ministry, setting out minimum standards of medical education and re-gazette the original recommendations of Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC).

In a statement signed by its convenor Dr. Manuj C Weerasinghe, the FFMTA has called upon the SLMC to state publicly that its recommendations on the minimum standards of medical education have been changed in an arbitrary manner and to work towards rectifying the distortion.

Full text of the FFMTA statement:

We the FFMTA are extremely concerned about distortion of the final recommendations of the Sri Lanka Medical Councils on the minimum standards of medical education when publishing the gazette 2056/44 of January 26th 2018, by the Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous medicine. We the FFMTA represents the medical teachers of the state medical faculties of Sri Lanka have contributed immensely to the development of the said minimum standards as authorized under the provisions of section 72 of the medical ordinance. Several key provisions in the final document of minimum standards of medical education submitted by the SLMC with the concurrence of the state medical faculties to the minister has been changed. Those changes are unacceptable and leads to deterioration of the standards of the medical education of our country and to the delivery of health service to the present future generations.

Hence, we the FFMTA categorically demand that the original recommendations of the SLMC to published in a new gazette following immediate withdrawal of the gazette 2056/44 of January 26rth 2018

The specific changes done are stated below:

1. At the beginning of the Gazette states,

REGULATIONS made by the Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, in consultation with the Sri Lanka Medical Council and upon the consideration of the comments of each university or institution which grants or confers any qualification which entitles a person to obtain registration under the Medical Ordinance, under section 72 read with section 19(e) of the Medical Ordinance (Chapter 105).

The references to the sections Section 19, Sections 19A, 19B, 19C, 19E and Section 29 of the Medical Ordinance that was included in the original SLMC submission to the minister has been removed. Reference to the sections 19A to 19E and section 29 is mandatory for the SLMC to enforce the minimum standards of medical education in the institutions and registration of medical practitioners in Sri Lanka. We the FFMTA believe this removal is a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the SLMC to implement minimum standards of medical education in the country. Thereby, making minimum standards of medical education a redundant document without any operational value.

2. The original recommendations submitted by the SLMC to the minster included a preamble to the first schedule in the minimum standards of medical education. This was included in the intention of providing the context on which the present minimum standards of medical education was developed and the scientific method it was based on. This whole section has been omitted from the Gazette in an attempt to conceal the historical role of the SLMC from the development process of minimum standards of medical education in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the removal of the statement “These standards may be reviewed as decided by the Sri Lanka Medical Council” seriously undermines the authority of the SLMC.

3. The entry criteria for the medical degree programmes is stated in the section 8[c) of the Gazette. The SLMC recommended the method of deciding the minimum entry criteria for a medical degree programme in a scientifically valid manner analysing the results of the GCE A/L examination for over a decade. This recommendation was arrived at following an extensive consultative process involving all the Faculty Boards of State Medical Faculties and based on international best practices, research evidence and current trends. The gazette has totally replaced this section with the following arbitrary criteria.

“in the subject of Biology, Chemistry and Physics with minimum grades of credit passes in the subjects of Biology and Chemistry, at one and the same sitting.”

We would like to point out that the criteria of two Credits and one Simple Pass was first arrived way back in 2009, based on the minimum grades during that time period. It is completely out-dated and not applicable in the current context. Therefore, we demand that the following original submission to be reinstated.

“Every student admitted to the university shall have passed the general Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) Examination of Sri Lanka, in the subjects of Biology, Physics and Chemistry or an equivalent examination, at one and the same sitting. The Sri Lanka Medical Council, in consultation with the University Grants Commission, shall declare every year, the minimum grades required for admission to medical degree programme, which shall be the lowest grades obtained by students admitted to state medical schools in the preceding year”.

4. Both versions of the gazette (Sinhala and English) have errors in spelling, grammar and sentence construction, which are not acceptable in an official document defining standards. Especially there are multiple discrepancies and misinterpretations in the Sinhala translation of the gazette. In case of any discrepancy in translations, the Sinhala transaction will prevail. Therefore, it is utmost important to provide a correct Sinhala version of the gazette without any ambiguity on the content.

We FFMTA demand the Ministry of Health to immediately withdraw the said gazette and re-gazette the original recommendations of SLMC. Further, we demand the SLMC to publically state that the SLMC recommendations on the minimum standards of medical education has been changed in an arbitrary manner and to work towards rectifying the distortion.