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Foreign medical graduates stage protest against undue delay over conducting ERPM

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The inordinate delay on the part of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) to conduct the Examination to Register to Practice Medicine (ERPM) has violated the fundamental rights of around 1,000 foreign medical graduates, the students’ association charged.

“We decided to return to Sri Lanka to pursue a career in medicine and serve our motherland, but the prolonged delay in conducting this mandatory examination has resulted in a gross waste of our time, money and efforts”, the Foreign Medical Graduates’ Association said in a statement following a silent protest at the ‘agitation site’ opposite the Presidential Secretariat on Wednesday.

The SLMC is the statutory council responsible for conducting the ERPM, and all foreign medical graduates with medical degrees from universities recognized by the SLMC are eligible to sit for the exam, as long as they submit their degree and other supporting documents to the SLMC and obtain a Degree Approval, the statement noted.

As outlined in the Degree Approval document, the ERPM consists of four parts (A, B, C, D) and the SLMC is responsible for conducting each part at least twice each year. The last ERPM (part A and D) exam was held in July 2019. Since then, for over one year, the exams have not been held. The SLMC failed to officially advise the foreign medical graduates awaiting the examination regarding the reasons for the delay, the students complained.

“There is now a cumulative total of about 1,000 foreign medical graduates awaiting the examination. It was said that the reason for the delay were petitions filed against the SLMC in the Supreme Court. However, this was never officially made known by the SLMC until 08.06.2020, when some foreign medical graduates submitted a RTI (Right to Information) to the SLMC to find out officially the reason for the delay in conducting the ERPM, the statement further said.

“The response to the RTI, dated 12.06.2020, signed by SLMC Registrar, Dr. Ananda Hapugoda, mentioned six cases filed against the SLMC in the Supreme Court as the reason for the delay. The Registrar also assured us that after the cases were over, there will be no hindrance in conducting the ERPM examination”, the statement noted.

The six petitions that named the SLMC as the respondent were filed by foreign medical graduates, whose application for Degree Approval was rejected by the SLMC on the basis that they did not have the necessary A/L results to practice medicine. On July 23, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of petitioners outlining that, according to the Medical Ordinance of Sri Lanka, there is no such minimum A/L requirement for practicing medicine in Sri Lanka, and that the SLMC was operating outside its rights in imposing arbitrary requirements upon foreign medical graduates, the statement asserted.

Following this, on August 12, 2020, the SLMC released a notice that called all eligible candidates to apply for the ERPM Part A and D. The period for applications was from August 24 to September 7, 2020. Candidates who had been waiting eagerly for over a year, immediately made the necessary payments (Rs. 20,000 per person), and handed over their applications. However, on September 3, 2020, the SLMC released another notice that the closing date for applications had been extended indefinitely. No reason was outlined for this, it further said.

“A few concerned candidates visited the SLMC seeking answers. Though no answer was given in writing, speaking to some officials of the SLMC led us to believe that there are some internal issues within the SLMC over the Supreme Court ruling, and this has resulted in the exam being delayed indefinitely”, the statement added.

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COPE meets online for first time in its history

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by Saman Indrajith

The Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) created a history by meeting online for the first time ever on Thursday.

The COPE had Secretaries of three Ministries joining in with its committee meeting through online (ZOOM) becoming the second parliamentary committee holding an online meeting in the country.

Thursday evening’s COPE meeting chaired by its chairman Prof. Charitha Herath connected online with Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Dr) H. S. Munasinghe, Secretary to the Ministry of Industries W. A. Chulananda Perera and, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Services, Provincial Councils and Local Government J. J. Ratnasiri via zoom technology.

The Environmental Audit Report on water pollution of the Kelani River was brought before the committee and the meeting held between the Chairman Prof. Herath, Ministers and Members of Parliament and secretaries and other officials continued without any technical hitches.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said that facilities have been provided to hold meetings and discussions using online technology in two committee rooms in Parliament.

He said that Parliamentary officials had been working relentlessly for months to install the requisite technological tools and that the efforts have borne fruit and future Parliamentary meetings could be held online as a result.

The Committee on High Posts under the chairmanship of Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena also held a discussion with the new Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Kenya, who was living in Kampala, using online technology recently.

 

 

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Legatum Prosperity Index highlights SL’s development of education and healthcare sectors

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During the past decade

One of the key highlights of this year’s Legatum Prosperity Index was the improvement in Sri Lanka’s education and healthcare sectors over the past decade. These improvements were key to increase in prosperity within Sri Lanka, it was noted.

The London-based think-tank Legatum Institute launched the 14th Legatum Prosperity Index on November 17 2020.

The event commenced with the welcome address by the Chair of the Legatum Institute, Alan McCormick. 

Addressing the audience, the Chief Executive Officer of the Legatum Institute, The Baroness Stroud said that according to the Legatum Index, the global prosperity was at its highest level ever with 147 countries seeing their prosperity rise over the last decade.

Speaking at the launch, the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in the UK, Saroja Sirisena said that the end of the terrorist conflict in 2009 and the ensuing peace dividend, led Sri Lanka to achieve steady progress within the last decade.

She highlighted that the universal free education and healthcare policies of the country over seven decades are the pillars on which prosperity is built.

Director of Policy of the Legatum Institute, Dr. Stephen Brien explained to the audience as to how the Legatum Index is used to measure prosperity across the world.

The event was also addressed by the Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in Africa, Dr. Mo Ibrahim, Biologist and Writer, Matt Ridley and Ambassador of Georgia in the UK Sophie Katsarava.

Legatum Prosperity Index is a global index that analyses the performance of 167 nations across 65 policy-focused elements, measured by almost 300 country level indicators and it is the only global index that measures national prosperity based on institutional, economic and social wellbeing.

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Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India with Sapna Mehra

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The Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), High Commission of India, Colombo, will be holding an online cookery demonstration on ‘Snack Time: Quick Snacks and Party Recipes from North India’ on December 5 at 11.00 am on its FACEBOOK page https://www.facebook.com/ICCRSriLanka.

This festival season, the Cultural Centre will present a virtual cookery demonstration by Sapna Mehra. Cooking has been a passionate hobby of Sapna since her childhood days. Growing up in a large family of 17 members, she was very keen on bringing variety to the dining table, and that’s when her cooking journey began, preparing simple wraps, and snacks.

She now specializes in cooking dishes from a variety of cuisines. Originally from Bangalore, she has lived in many cities across India and Sri Lanka, and at present resides in Delhi.

She has a Postgraduate degree in Marketing and has over 12 years work experience in the professional field.

All are cordially invited to attend. For more details, contact the Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre on telephone No: 2684698 or Email: iccrcolombo2@gmail.com

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