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Panel discussion on “How many doctors do we need for Sri Lanka?”

The College of Medical Educationists hosted a panel discussion on “How many doctors do we need for Sri Lanka?” from 4 pm to 7 pm on the 4th of April 2017 at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo.

The speakers were

  1. Prof. Lalitha Mendis (Former president of SLMC & past president of SLMA)
  2. Dr. Palitha Abeykoon (Former WHO consultant & past president of SLMA)
  3. Prof. Indika Karunathilake (President, College of Medical Educationists, Sri Lanka)
  4. Dr.Dilip de Silva (Consultant on Human Resources in Health (HRH) for Ministry of Health)

The panel discussion was focused on many pertinent and current issues. Following are some of the facts highlighted.

Do we need more doctors?

  1. WHO does not recommend a universal doctor: population ratio. This should be decided based on multiple factors such as health needs, disease patterns, health infrastructure and the economy of the country.
  2. Currently Sri Lanka does not maintain projections for the required number of doctors.
  3. Impromptu increases in production of doctors can lead to destabilization of the health system.
  4. An appropriate skill mix is a more pertinent issue for quality health care delivery

Standards of medical education and entry criteria.

  1. Sri Lankan medical education has been maintaining its standards, but institutions which are not regulated by independent regulatory bodies will threaten the standards.
  2. Entry criteria to medical education may need revision but it should be done ensuring the equity and merit based access to education.

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