Specialists frown on proposed multiple PGIMs as a waste of meagre resources

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The Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) has raised concerns about the budget proposal for setting up more postgraduate institutes of medicine.

In a letter addressed to President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the AMS has said that the establishment of new institutions is inappropriate and ill-timed. “A cash-strapped economy should make every possible attempt to make the maximum use of available resources rather than investing more funds for a purpose nothing more than mere repetition of the same.

The letter signed by AMS President Dr. Lak Kumar Fernando and AMS General Secretary Dr. R. Gnanasekeram, say: “We, the Association of medical specialists, would like to express our concerns and reservations with regard to the above proposal announced by your Excellency as the Minister of finance during the 2022 budget speech.

“Postgraduate medical education in Sri Lanka has reached internationally acclaimed heights due to sustained and collective efforts of all stakeholders since its inception.

“We have been able to impress the rest of the world with our standards which is proven by higher acceptance of our trainees to many training and consultant positions, mainly in UK and Australasia. Several MD programmes offered by the PGIM are eligible for direct registration with General Medical council, UK.

“With the current economic setback, several specialties are struggling to secure overseas training positions (which are mandatory for our board certification) that are funded by the PGIM through the ministry of health. The funds allocated for day to day expenses are likely to be curtailed as a result of budgetary restrictions. However, many trainees still can obtain paid training jobs in the UK and Australia and continue the relevant overseas training without interruption obviously due to the quality of local training they have here in Sri Lanka.

“Further, we already have a centrally located PGIM which has just established a new facility to expand its services. The PGIM currently utilises the training opportunities available throughout the country from Jaffna to Galle and from Negombo to Batticaloa, although the main institution is located in Colombo. As all the possible places which can be used to train medical post graduates in the country are currently being used by the PGIM, there cannot be any increased training opportunities in the event of establishing new institutions, especially for the MD programs.

“Against this background, when some other institutions are established for the same purpose as proposed, already curtailed allocations are to be shared by more making the matters worse.

“We are of the opinion that the establishment of new institutions for the same purpose is inappropriate and ill-timed. A cash strapped economy should make every possible attempt to make the maximum use of available resources rather than investing more funds for a purpose nothing more than mere repetition of the same.

“Hence, we urge the government to reconsider the budget proposal to have multiple PGIMs. An alternative is to convert the existing PGIM of University of Colombo to an independent Post graduate University with the power to have faculties in Colombo, Galle, Jaffna and Kandy etc. This will help to preserve a single structure that could work effectively and efficiently with the Ministry of Health without inefficiencies and duplication of work. Further, we feel that maintaining the status quo of existing post graduate medical education in our country is essential to minimize unnecessary extra investment at this critical juncture.”

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