SLMC, ragging and 'The Rich Octopus'

Some students studying medicine abroad.

Do you think that there is a link between ragging and the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC)? Maybe yes. Maybe not. Maybe you will laugh loudly after hearing these two words, ragging and SLMC together because there is no visible connection between them at all. But we are not going to discuss about any possible link between these two.We are going to talk about the impacts of these two on Sri Lankans and our country.

We discussed about ragging during the past several decades but no positive change has taken place in the situation. Still poor children who enter state universities as a result of sacrificing the sweat and blood of their parents die, become permanently disabled or abandon higher education doing odd jobs due to ragging. The latest incidents were reported last week from the Jaffna University and the Peradeniya University.

According to several media reports published in newspapers and websites last week, the Tamil undergraduates of the Jaffna University treat their fellow freshers as human beings and refrain from harming them, while the Sinhalese students force their fellow freshers to spend thousands of rupees on data and mobile telephone calls and send their nude photos, videos, abnormal sexual acts and such like through Whatsapp. The second year students had taken all mobile phone numbers of freshers and given them the numbers of their seniors. The freshers had been threatened by the seniors stating that they will be physically harmed them if they do not take those photos, videos and post them to the seniors.

According to media reports the Peradeniya University authorities had temporarily stopped academic activities for the second year Engineering Faculty to protect the first year students from being subject to ragging. In other words the safety of freshers had been ensured by the university authorities there. This is a pathetic situation because this is not something new and this is the 46th year of this ongoing criminal activity in state universities in Sri Lanka which commenced in 1974.

This well planned torturing system commenced in 1974 by men who killed MPs and hundreds of other scholars, artistes, civilians and the like in 1987 and 1988 under the name of Deshapremi Janatha Vyaparaya (DJV). Here the letter `J ' is very significant because it tells the whole story. At present this non political party which has divided into two micro political parties has only three (3) percent of representation in the country.

This well planned torturing system commenced in 1974 with torturing a mathematics teacher at Kelaniya (then) Vidyalankara University. In 1975 it was Miss. Rupa Rathnaseeli who jumped from the top floor of a university building to escape from ragging and then committed suicide in 2002 after suffering 27 long years as a permanently disabled person. The list of those unfortunate undergraduates is very long. Then comes Chaminda Punchihewa (1993), Prasanna Niroshan (1993), S.Varapragash (1997), Kelum Thushara (1997), Samantha Vithanage (2002) by dropping a computer on his head, stabbing him and blocking and delaying (for a few hours) the vehicle from taking him to the hospital, Shanika Dilhan Wijesinghe (2019). Pasindu Hirushan (2020), the latest victim. There are many others. Enough is enough. Now we desperately need the help of our heroic Armed Forces. They have already saved us from calamity many a time. The two deadly disasters, the LTTE Terrorism that lasted for 30 years and the COVID-19 pandemic are significant. The entire country, especially the innocent poor parents of children below the age of 21 and the innocent poor children who cannot enter into foreign universities spending millions of rupees are eagerly waiting for our heroic armed forces to rescue them from these blood thirsty groups in state universities. They are waiting to be saved.

Here it is very easy for our armed forces because they have already defeated suicide bombers!. Here their duty is simple. Only their intelligence officers have some work in arresting those involved. Actually their deployment will solve the problem itself within days and they will not have any duty to do. Our talented children of innocent poor parents will be protected by them until they graduate from state universities.

The Sri Lanka Medical Council under the spotlight again. 

Otherwise if the former Yahapalana Government crooks come into power once again, one day, they will sell our state universities in order to 'save our innocent poor undergraduates' who do not have millions of rupees to spend for foreign universities. The Yahapalana Government was doing it until November last year. They gradually sold out our free education by allowing rich students without proper AL passes to enter into so-called private medical faculties and become MBBS doctors. Here comes the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC). It was a very popular name during the past week or two due to the omission of certain popular and historical foreign universities from their recognition list. But what is important to the innocent poor people is not that. Their talented children do not have millions of rupees to study in those expensive foreign universities. Therefore it is the problem of the rich.

According to the Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA) sources, by 2019, there were 30,000 fully qualified MBBS doctors in Sri Lanka. Another 2000 MBBS doctors are now undergoing internship training. Another 1500 MBBS doctors are waiting to undergo internship training. Another 8000 medical students are now studying in 10 state medical faculties. Another 1500 medical students are awaiting to enter into the 10 state medical faculties after passing the Advanced Level Examination in the Science Stream in 2019 and scoring the highest required marks.

The number of Sri Lankans who obtained foreign MBBS degrees and applied to the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) for registration is high. It is mandatory for any MBBS doctor to practice in Sri Lanka. By 2017, a total of 3000 Sri Lankan students had entered into foreign medical faculties in order to obtain the MBBS. It is revealed by now that after 2017, a large number of Sri Lankan students had gone abroad to obtain foreign MBBS degrees.

By now annually around 2000 doctors (both local and foreign MBBS degree holders) obtain SLMC registration and practice here. When considering the above situation, anyone can see that in another five years nearly 17,000 new MBBS doctors will join the medical service in Sri Lanka. With 30,000 doctors in service by now the total number of MBBS doctors registered with the SLMC by the end of next five years will be around 46,000.

By now every 700 Sri Lankans have one MBBS doctor which is a highly admirable figure according to WHO standards. Sri Lanka does not need anymore doctors without basic qualifications and specially AL failures.But the problem is not any of those. The problem is available facilities in Sri Lanka at the moment for those with three 'Fs' and the individuals with O/L or Arts stream Advanced Level Qualifications to become MBBS doctors in Sri Lanka if they have a foreign MBBS.

A surgeon can cut meat but a butcher cannot operate on a patient's abdomen. Money can replace a surgeon with a butcher. This is the bitter truth ignored by all who can afford to seek medical treatment from foreign hospitals such as the Mount Elizabeth in Singapore. They belong to almost all sectors in Sri Lanka, especially politics, business and even state university staff. This network is so powerful because it covered the entire Sri Lanka like an Octopus. If we have to lay unconscious on a state hospital bed with a butcher, our death is sure. No one can stop it. That is why we need qualified doctors.

According to the GMOA and the public of Sri Lanka, there are certain urgent things to do in order to assure the safety of innocent poor Sri Lankan patients who seek medical treatment from state hospitals.

Nominations should be made for the four existing vacancies in the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) immediately. Still the henchmen of former Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne run the SLMC. They should be removed as soon as possible in order to re-gain the past glory of the Council.

The final approval from the Parliament should be obtained immediately for the Minimum Standards of Medical Education. This was purposely delayed and not done by the former Health Minister in order to allow unqualified medical students with three 'Fs' (Failed in all three subjects ) and who did not study and pass in Science Subjects at the Advanced Level Examination to become MBBS doctors. The former Health Minister appointed his personal staff members into the SLMC ignoring rules, regulations, traditions and all in order to allow the students who do not have required minimum basic qualifications to become MBBS doctors through other channels.

At the end there is something very important to keep all poor Sri Lankan patients who seek medical treatment from state hospitals alive. That is the ERPM Examination (Act 16 Examination). From the beginning it is the giant steel wall that exists in Sri Lanka in order to protect the lives of the Sri Lankan people from those with foreign MBBS degrees who can appear in a surgeon's (fully qualified MBBS doctor) uniform. We, all Sri Lankan citizens should protect this life saving giant wall no matter whether we have to sacrifice our lives for that. At the moment it is the ERPM which the Rich Octopus could not break.

This inhuman ragging is one of the main reasons behind AL qualified Sri Lankan students going abroad for higher education. Now is the time to put a complete stop to ragging and help retain a large amount of foreign exchange diverted to foreign universities. At the same time we have to keep an eye on the Rich Octopus which will aim at piercing the wall of the ERPM exam as well.

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