The Sunday Leader

Corruption At PGIM

By Nirmala Kannangara

Shocking revelations have come to the fore as to how the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM), the institute that produces Medical Consultants in the country, has become a den of corruption under the administration of its present Director.

Meanwhile allegations are also piling up against the Higher Education Minister and the Chairperson of the University Grants Commission (UGC) for allowing Director PGIM to engage in irregularities with impunity thus degrading the entire medical profession in the country.

Although powers are vested with the Minister of Higher Education and the Chairperson UGC to remove or take disciplinary action against the Director PGIM or any Board of Study (BoS) for violating the PGIM Ordinance, medical luminaries have raised questions as to why they have failed to do so with the Director when there are credible allegations against him.

The letter of resignation of Dr J. A. J Jayatissa following the controversial
MD (Family Medicine) exam, Notice cancelling the unofficial results, PGIM Ordinance that states the Director is the accounting officer of the institute and The Committee Report of Inquiry states that marks of index number 9 has been altered and made the candidate to pass the exam

However, Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake and Chairperson UGC Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama confirmed to The Sunday Leader that necessary action would be taken within a month to solve the issues in the PGIM and particularly against the allegations levelled against the BoS (Family Medicine).

PGIM is governed by the Council of the Colombo University and is the sole body that conducts examinations for MBBS doctors to obtain the medical degree to become consultants.

PGIM is an integral body in the field of medicine. However due to the irregularities that are occurring constantly from recent past, medical professionals and academics accuse PGIM Director Prof. Jayantha Jayewardene for the mess up in the institute.
According to a leading medical professional who wished to remain anonymous, the manner in which the Director handles PGIM affairs are demoralizing the doctors who study to obtain the MD and post graduate qualifications. He further accused Prof. Jayewardene for appointing unqualified doctors as examiners in MD examinations in most of the medical specialities.

“Medical profession is a hallowed profession in the country. If there are irregularities when conducting examinations to select Consultant doctors and if they are selected based on favouritism but not on merit the Director has to be blamed for the blunder. From the way the members are appointed to the BoS and the way how the important examinations are conducted, it is pitiful as to how Prof. Jayewardene has done harm to the PGIM.

“After being appointed as the Director, he appointed members to the BoS in an adhoc manner. What has the UGC done to prevent such irregularities? If things continue in this manner there is no necessity to hold exams to select the best to qualify as consultant doctors,” said the medical professional.

Meanwhile a group of candidates who sat for the MD (Family Medicine) in July last year on basis of anonymity accused Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake and Chairperson UGC Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama for their failure to take action against Director PGIM Prof. Jayantha Jayewardene for violating the PGIM Ordinance and for conducting the MD (Family Medicine) examination in the most corrupt manner with examiners who did not have the required qualifications.

According to the sources, during Prof. Jayewardene’s tenure as the Director PGIM, there were many flaws at most of the examinations held in several specialities.

“During Prof. Jayewardene’s predecessor’s time such irregularities were never heard of. Last year alone many flaws were reported at the Gynaecology and Obstetrician, Paediatrics, Surgery and Family Medicine examinations to name a few. At the MD selection examination in Gynaecology and Obstetrician held in 2013, the question paper was leaked and as a result the PGIM had to pass all the candidates that sat for the examination.

At the MD in Paediatrics there were many flaws and the candidates wanted to take legal action against the PGIM. Finally the institute had to hold a special exam once again to avoid legal action. It was the same with the MD in Surgery examination. Since there were many flaws at this examination, the candidates had to protest demanding to revise the results. Finally the PGIM had to revise the results and pass more candidates to resolve the protest. At the MD in Family Medicine which was held in July last year the provisional results had to be cancelled and two subjects will be revised once again,” the sources claimed.

They further said, “Although the Board of Management (BoM) is above the Director, it is the Director that shall be the accounting officer of the Institute. According to the PGIM Ordinance No:1 of 1980, it shall be the duty of the Director to ensure that the provisions of the Act and of any appropriate instrument in so far as they relate to the institute are duly observed and he shall have and may exercise all such powers as he may deem necessary for the purpose. He also shall be responsible for the maintenance of discipline within the Institute”.

The sources further alleged, “Out of the 22 Boards of Study representing all specialities in the medical field, Board of Study in Family Medicine has the most corrupted representatives. Although there should be 14 members in the BoS (Family Medicine) there are only eight members as all other six members have tendered their resignations since they have found out that the BoS is so corrupt. The last to resign from the BoS was Dr J. A. J. Jayasinghe after the questionable MD exam was held in July. He tendered his resignation on August 21 claiming he was ‘dismayed and disheartened’ the way the examination was held,” the sources claimed.

The sources further said that although the PGIM Ordinance has allowed the Director to appoint nine members to the BoS (Family Medicine) from private sector, Prof. Jayewardene has failed to include qualified doctors from the Health Department.

“All the members in BoS have to be MD qualified doctors. However since MD (Family Medicine) is new to Sri Lanka there are no MD (Family Medicine) doctors in the Health Department. Hence the Director has appointed six MD qualified doctors from the private sector and the other three from the Diploma in Family Medicine (DFM) qualification. Although there are many DFM qualified doctors in the Health Department, still the Director appointed these three from the private sector. Although each BoS member has to be from different private sector training units, two members have been taken from one training unit – Ceymed Health Care Services (Pvt) Ltd Kohuwela where PGIM Director Prof. Jayewardene too is doing private consultation. Prof. Jayewardene can be consulted only at Ceymed but not anywhere else,” alleged the sources.

Noting on the scandalous MD (Family Medicine) examination, the dejected candidates said that there were many loopholes in the examination.

“The examination guidelines were changed without notifying us. This exam consists of four components – the Portfolio Viva, written paper, Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) and Dissertation Viva. Other than the first component, which was held on May 23, other three examinations were held from July 15 to 19, 2013. After the provincial results were released on the final day of the examination, we wrote to the Director that the results cannot be accepted since there were many loopholes. After considering our appeal, the BoM suspended the provincial results on August 21 and appointed a three-member inquiring panel to look into our allegations. The panel was chaired by Prof. Malkanthi Chandrasekera and consisted Prof. M. D. Lamawansa and Mr. C. Maliyadda. The committee report was submitted to the BoM PGIM on September 6 annulling the unofficial results that was released on July 19. The report also decided to repeat the OSCE component and to re-assess the Portfolio Viva examination,” added the sources.
The committee has also requested the BoM to appoint 10 new examiners and a Chief Examiner.

“We also wrote three more letters to the Director dated August 22, August 27 and September 6 and copying them to the Chairperson UGC, Vice Chancellor Colombo University and the Council of the Colombo University requesting to hold fresh exams for the other two components – written paper and Dissertation Viva. The Committee of Inquiry meanwhile has found out that the marks of one of the candidate’s (Index No. 9) have been altered in Portfolio Viva and OSEC which has made the candidate to pass the exam. This was found out at a random selection. If the committee was able to go through all the marking sheets of the candidates, they would have been able to find more such alternations. That is why we want the other two exams too to be repeated,” said the sources.

They further accused Prof. Jayewardene for bypassing PGIM guidelines when appointing examiners.

“According to the PGIM guidelines it clearly states that the examiners should be Consultants who have seven years experience after obtaining the Board Certification. Although Dr Seneth Samaranayake, the Chief Examiner, Dr Sarath Paranavithana and Dr Prasanna Siriwardena have the Board Certification, they did not have the required number of years in that position. All these three doctors obtained their Board Certification only in January 12, 2007 and has not completed seven year service at the time they examined us at the MD (Family medicine) examination in July 2013,” the sources alleged.

The sources further raised allegations against the Chief Examiner (CE) Dr Seneth Samaranayake, Head of the Family Medicine Unit, Sri Jayewardenepura Medical Faculty for taking part as the CE when he was on sick leave from his official duties at the Jayewardenepura Medical Faculty.

“He has applied for sick leave from July 2 to July 22 from his official duties but still worked as the CE from July 15- 19. There are serious allegations against him by a fellow doctor which we are going to prove within a short time. How can we expect fairness from such an examiner,” the sources claimed

Meanwhile they further blamed Prof. Jayewardene for inviting two external examiners to act as invigilators when two of their batch-mates were sitting for the exam.

“This is conflict of interest. Had the Director got the examiners to fill the Conflicts of Interests and Confidentiality Declaration Form which is a must, the friendship between the two candidates and the two external examiners could have easily established. Anyhow the two batch-mate candidates got through the exam,” said the sources.

Meanwhile the failed candidates have sought legal action to get the written paper and the Dissertation Viva repeated and the Supreme Court has allowed leave to proceed.

“Now there are rays of hope. The case will be taken up in September,” they added.

When contacted Director PGIM Prof. Jayantha Jayewardene to get a comment on the allegations levelled against him, Prof. Jayewardene declined to make any comment stating that he does not want to talk since the matter is in court. “Neither I nor the Board of Management can make any comment,” said Prof. Jayewardene.

However Chairperson UGC Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama said that necessary action would be taken before the end of this month.
“Some candidates came and met me soon after the exam a few months ago and also early January. Despite my busy schedule, I still met them and requested to give me the allegations and their appeal in writing. I have instructed the UGC to take action and if the allegations are proved, I have the authority to take the necessary action against the Director to which I will not hesitate,” said Prof. Hirimburegama.

Meanwhile Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake blamed the members of the BoS (Family Medicine) for the irregularities.

When I inquired this matter from outside I was told that two doctors in the BoS who do their private practice in Ceymed Health Care Services (Pvt) Ltd Kohuwala wanted some of these candidates to do consultations at Ceymed free of charge. These doctors are corrupt and have to remove them from the BoS immediately. As the Minister I have advised the UGC to take stern action against these members in BoS,” said the Minister.

When asked as to what action he is going to take against the Director PGIM who has violated all norms of PGIM guidelines from the time he was appointed as the Director, Minister Dissanayake still put the blame only on the members of the BoS (Family Medicine) but not on the Director.

“He is a senior in the medical profession. He is not liable for any of these irregularities. It is the BoS that conducts the courses and the exams. They appoint themselves as invigilators. The Director does not play any role here,” said the Minister.

Meanwhile when Prof. Seneth Samaranayake was contacted on the allegations levelled, he did not wish to make any comment. However later he sent a text message stating that being a public officer he cannot make any comment to the media.

14 Comments for “Corruption At PGIM”

  1. Sangaralingham

    Good luck. Who cares those who take the exam and the stress they go through to succeedif as seen the article states success is failure not known who really passed is is it done honestly with good candidates get the benefit of the examinations promotion or not.

  2. Mahasona

    If someone wants to know how the present directors wife engaged in another BoS contact me….. I can give first hand evidence on violation of exam rules and students harassment….

  3. Yogendran S V

    I have been a trainee and a consultant at present.
    Prof Jayawardena was helpful and genuine in managing the PGIM.
    Board study is well controlled by consultants in selected field. Most of the times the consultant in the board of study are connected to the GMOA.
    If a particular board fails to perform its duty its members should be punished rather than the director.
    Why do these members in the board of study wants to be anonymous.?
    Is there an agenda to appoint somebody is connected to GMOA or politically connected.
    Shame

  4. DrWho

    This has been going on for a long time. I myself have done a PG Exams, and so many irregularities occured,
    The son’s of consultant’s was favoured , by leaking questions(Viva , Theory & Cases).
    The merit list was manipulated by the board of study chairman to favour their favorite candidates.
    A candidate who had a clear fail in the Long Case, was passed due to favoritsm.
    All candidates who were above a certain candidate(A Consultants son) were passed so that the Consultant son will pass
    The list goes on, I can give the names if necessary

    “O tempora o mores”

  5. gamrala

    Appointment of external examiners – one for each specialty,from abroad,preferably from UK will ensure fairness.This has been done earlier.

  6. samaranayake

    Jayanatha Jayawardena is corrupt to the bone. He was Director of the Peradeniya Hospital in late 80s whilst he was a University of Peradeniya employed Snr. Lecturer. He was able to become Director of a Health Ministry instituition because his father-in-law was a UNP- MP under JRJ Presidency. He got back handers by giving contracts to build a wall around the hospital which was secure all around. He orchesterated a major conflict within the O&G Dept. to benefit him and his friend. He does not know right from wrong, he dose not know what it means to have a conflict of interest. He is only iinterested in what it is for himself. He is a disgrace to the Medical Profession. Before long he will start selling postgraduate qualifications, I wont be surprised if he has already taken some back handers. He is not a Clinician. He ticks all the boxes for a Sri Lankan Politician. There goes the reputed PGIM my alma-mata. Only God can save SriLanka!

  7. Dr M.L.Najimudeen

    Professor Jayantha Jayawardene is a very senior medical consultant with more than 30 years of postgraduate experience. He had also wide experience in medical administration since he had functioned as the professor, head of department and dean of medical faculty for many years.

    22 Board of studies are functioning in the postgraduate institute of medicine to conduct examinations in their own speciality. It is the responsibility of the board to set the questions, select the examiners and conduct the examination. The director is accountable but cannot go through all the minute details since 22- 30 examinations are conducted each year.

    I believe it is unfair to point finger at the director alone

  8. Unanimous

    PGIM is the place for shameful favourations.One example. BOS (Children Medicine) ,One leading prof’s 2nd son .
    1.Sat for MD selection exam(part 1) . : regulation was the candidates should have completed one year of post intern service on or before the closing date of applications -> changed to one year service up the the 1st day of the exam

    2. Sat for the 2nd attempt –
    a) Changed the exam format (considered as a new exam -so everybody’s 1st attempt )
    b) pass marks – up to the sons mark
    by a & b this candidate came to a higher merit position

    3. Part 2 exam :
    a) Agreement between the Chairmen of BOS and Prof. to recruit to the faculty of Medicine
    b) Immediate trainer cannot be the examiner rule exempted . Immediate trainer (Chairmen of BOS) comes to the exam and gives more than 90% marks for the Clinical s ( long case)
    b) But still cannot be the batch top. Change the Batch top tile as the Best Clinical performance and award the gold medel

    I’m asking from all What do you call this kind of things ????

  9. Dr Viran Rajapakse

    This happens in other board of studies too. So it is essential to appoint correct people as examiners and board of study members. They must be replaced after their terms are over.
    Most of the members in Radiology Board of study are ineligible to be there on PGIM criteria. But some of them linger for about 10 years continuously and run a real dictatorship not allowing others to join . Only qualification needed to be an examiner or board member is personal favorations of heads of board . This way very soon radiology exam system will also collapse.

  10. John

    This has been hapening from the time i attempted to sit for MS surgery in 1995/1996. Application closing dates are changed to suit their favorite candidtaes. I never got to sit for MS part 1. This made me to leave the county. I am glad i left and today I am a professor of surgery in a western country and happy about my decision.
    Also my wife sat for opthalmology qualifying exam and to date they never released report. When we called we told that she failed.
    So we left the country and we are happy about it.
    FYI: This is one of the reason hard working good doctors leave the island settle in different countries.
    HOPE THINGS WILL CHANGE IN THE FUTURE SO OUR HEALTH SYSTEM CAN IMPROVE.

  11. sanmuganathan

    It is important to have a strong credible leader appointed as Director, PGIM. I sat the MD in Medicine in 1992 when Professor Ralph Panaboke was Director. I can still remember how he got about his duties – fair, firm and decisive. I finished my overseas stint and came back in 1994 – Dr JB Peiris a word renowned Neurologist. I can personally vouch for his honest, righteous and just approach to decision making when an unscrupulous individual tried to sway JB by influencing the Board of Study in Medicine when I applied for Board certification.
    I fought battle after battle and left Sri Lanka and now live and work in Britain, although, I never intended to do this. I regret that I am unable to help my fellow citizens, I can say this, as I hold dual citizenship and value being a Sri Lankan. Balancing the risk of stress related to working with paranoid psychotics and morally corrupt individuals likes of the present Director Vs personal sanity and well being – I am happy to be out of the corrupt mess.
    Since I left I have been shown evidence by a British examiner who went as external examiner where a senior Consultants offspring was passed having not achieved the required scores. This examiner stopped the relevant Royal College from sending any further examiners – as it was considered a joke to go all the way to Colombo.
    I am saddened by all this – hope for the darkness to pass and light t o shine.

  12. Mahasona

    This Director’s wife is having a mental disorder. She never allow PG students to get through the thesis defense in their first attempt. (she openly says that she couldn’t when she was a student and now she is not doing it. She want the candidates to come after her meet her in the department begging to get the letter stating that they have successfully done the corrections needed. She is violating the exam rules by changing the decisions taken at the exam proper with presence of the foreign examiner. This is happening for 6-7 years and only one person (to my knowledge) challenged this. But I know that person got delayed by one year due to this fight. It was her husband at the director chair and nothing happened to that student. She is still doing the same harassing students (including her own) but no one can complain because her husband is the director. Once she was removed from an exam after challenging by a student. That board was shameless to appoint her as the chief examiner for the next MD exam. Lat year she harassed a female student and she almost given up her studies. This student’s supervisors advice was to not to create any problem and do it somehow (by go behind her and begging). She was removed from an ethics review committee due to harassing students. Still she is the chairperson of the BoS. No shame (not only for the directors, but also for all members of BoS)

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