ROSEAU, Dominica, Thursday May 31, 2012 – The law courts are being asked to decide whether Dominica is too small to support three medical schools on the island.
The decision by the Dominica government to stop a bid by Global Education Provider Ltd to join the United States-based Ross University School of Medicine and the smaller All Saints University School of Medicine in providing tertiary level medical training on the island has not been taken lying down.
Dwight Horsford and Kondwani, attorneys representing Global Education Provider, say they intend to appeal a decision by Justice Brian Cottle to deny their application for judicial review of a 2010 Cabinet decision on the matter.
The company, owned by gynaecologist and former Medical Director Dr Curvin Ferreira, had applied for permission from the Dominica Cabinet to establish the proposed medical school. However, that application did not receive Cabinet approval, with Education Minister Peter St Jean reportedly citing the fact that there were already two medical schools operating in Dominica as one of the reasons for refusal in 2010.
In December that year, Global Education Provider made its first overture in the law courts to get this decision overturned and, on December 13, 2010, High Court Judge Bernie Stephenson Brooks upheld an application by the company’s lawyers for judicial review on the decision of Cabinet.
However when the matter went before Justice Cottle, Global Education Provider’s request was denied.
Justice Cottle, in hearing the matter, referred to the minister’s explanation that the purpose and spirit of the Education Act require him to attempt to maintain as high as possible a standard of education in the institution he allows to operate.
“He says the existing two medical schools completely exhaust the limited capacity of the available hospitals, two in number and medical and health centres to accommodate the daily rotation of students from these schools,” the judge said.
Noting that that position was not challenged by the applicant, the judge stated that it was clear that “there must be some limit to the capacity of the local providers of health care services to provide teaching facilities to medical students”.
“The Minister must be satisfied that the applicant would have at its disposal adequate material and human resources to dispense the educational services for which the applicant seeks a permit,” Justice Cottle said.
Pointing out that the decision to refuse a license is one which could be reasonably arrived at by the minister, the judge said he was dismissing the applicant’s claim.
He said he took into account section 96 of the Education Act in arriving at his decision, adding “it is not for this court to seek to substitute its own judgement for that of the minister”.