COOKS MEDICAL SCHOOL OFFICIALS MUM ON CLOSURE

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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, ) – The South Pacific School of Medicine (SPSOM) appears to be accepting its forced closure without comment or reaction.

Caretaker Dr David Inaho has refused to comment on its closure after government decided not to support its establishment as an internationally recognised medical school in the Cook Islands.

Yesterday Inaho, who was to issue a statement from the school, refused to comment on their situation and repeatedly said "no comment" when asked if they would be reacting or if founder Larry Sands would be speaking.

Inaho said he was no longer willing to comment on what they think of the decision or when the school will officially close.

With government's support the school was to apply to the World Health Organisation for international recognition. The school has previously told government it planned to offer 10 scholarship places at the school for Cook Islanders as part of its contribution to the country.

Of the three reports commissioned by government into the operations of the school, only one report was supportive of it. That report was written by former prime minister Dr Robert Woonton for prime minister Jim Marurai. The reviews of the school were carried out because of concerns about the school's 'integrity'.

Cabinet based its decision to not support the school on a report they received this month from Health Specialists Ltd director and consultant Debbie Sorensen.

While Sorensen said in her report that there was concern that a number of the faculty were not real medical doctors, Woonton's report said they were 'very qualified, dedicated and energetic academics under the leadership of an experienced dean (Dr Lew Dick)'.

"Needless to say the qualifications of the lecturers are of high international standard," he wrote.

The school was opened last May after it received a permit as a foreign enterprise in 2005.

Sands had planned to use government's approval to get recognition for another school to be opened in Mexico this year.

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