I was Proud to be a Doctor from the Colombo Medical Faculty
Posted on April 27th, 2010
Dr Lalith Perera
This is neither a confession nor redemption. But at least telling the truth that was suppressed in my mind for a long time might put me at ease. I don’t know how to begin this article. Anyhow, I try to follow my memory lane. By writing this letter, I know my colleagues would hate me and denounce me as a traitor. I will be subjected to a long witch hunt. But I hope one day they would understand me and realize the point that I tried to highlight in here.
I was astonished when I came to know that I was selected to the Faculty of Medicine Colombo and the day I came to the Medical Faculty I felt like a king. We lookdown upon the Medical Graduates from Peradeniya , Ruhuna and Jaffna because we were the best. We were the cream. We were very much proud of ourselves.
I still remember when the Private Medical Collage issue came in mid Eighties we openly protested. I recall one incident when some students from the PMC came for a practical session at the Colombo Faculty; we ragged them and humiliated them. We organized meetings to educate our fellow students. Along with some of our Medical students ( Balasooriya , A.M Jayasiri , Prasanna Gunasena etc) we launched a poster campaigning against the PMC.
In 1996, the AMP (Assistant Medical Practitioners) matter emerged and we protested them. I encouraged some of my batch mates to continue the protest and we organized some strikes.
After some years, the Foreign Medical Graduates from USSR, Bulgaria, and Cuba came to Sri Lanka and started practicing as doctors. Again, we made a big protest to safeguard the Medicine in Sri Lanka. In 1997, I fully supported a poster camping against Foreign Medical Graduates.
Inside us, there was a rejection and disregard for the doctors who were not originally from the Colombo Medical Faculty. We considered them as inefficient and practitioners without high-quality knowledge.
In 2005, I went to USA and England and had the opportunity to visit some hospitals. Also I visited some Universities and exchanged ideas. Gradually I started questioning my self about our supreme position as the Doctor from the Colombo Medical Faculty. Are we the best? Or whether we were in a deception for a long time believing that we were the best and rest of others were buffoons.
My exposure to the outside world told me that we were living in a false dream for many years. I realized that there are other educational institutions much better and far advanced than us.
Recently I came to know that according to the international ranking the position of the University of Colombo has drastically gone down and it plays below 500 th rank . In the Asian university, ranking The University of Colombo is the last. Over the past few decades, our Medical Faculties have not contributed significant international research or publications. None of our Sri Lnakan professors were recognized in the international medical field. But in the other hand the Universities and in India, Nepal, Bangladesh had made remarkable impacts. Their university professors are invited to the international forums and they contribute a lot.
In UK I met a Sri Lankan Doctor who had passed out from the PMC Ragama and later migrated to England. He works as a Consultant Anesthetist in a prestigious Hospital in the United Kingdom. In the USA, I met a Doctor who had a Russian degree now serving as an associate Professor in Microbiology in one of the top Universities in Los Angeles. For many years, we fought with these people and chased them from our health system. Now they are doing extremely well in other countries giving their knowledge and skills to other people.
Now I have a guilty feeling that we blocked these people serving the Sri Lankans. Although we said that, we wanted to protect the free education and the health system of Sri Lanka most of my collages (including me) are much focused on private practice rather than the health system or the interests of the average Sri Lankans. This may be harsh but it is the truth. Most of my colleagues would say yes to this fact if they were questioned by their conscience.
Why we behaved in a superior mentality? Because we were not exposed to the outside world. All these years we were living like frogs in a deep well without seeing the outer world. We thought that we were the best, we disregarded other graduates and but finally I realized that we were wrong.
We fought AMP s disregarding their prolong service (over 125 years) to the public. When I was working in peripheral hospitals I have met skilled assistant medical practitioners, but I was unwilling to admire them may be due to my high ego.
Recently I did a small study, medical negligence in Sri Lanka starting from Priyani Soysa vs Arsakularatne case, the death of Granville Rodrigo, the death of Prabath Manawasinge etc. Shockingly I found that the most of the accused were local graduates predominantly from my Alma Mater.
Why our universities became more and more inefficient? I blame the university mafia that ruined the system. The university authorities were not interested in recruiting the best students as lecturers and train them as future professors. They gave priority to the family members, relatives and family friends. Finally, a bunch of clowns became top people in various departments and they did not do any intellectual work.
Our superior mentality made us dormant; we did not do any internationally identifiable research, any valuable publication or discovery. So we are lower than the universities in Africa.
I hope my colleagues and the present young generation would understand my point. Before denouncing me or criticizing me, I urge you to think what I have experienced. Still we are not too late if we truly work for the science leaving our ego issues apart we can win.