From dream to reality, a new haven for Sri Lanka
Story contributed by: Marie Pietersz, Melbourne
Pictures: courtesy of Project BEAP
Australian members of the Foundation Supporting a National Trauma Service in Sri Lanka Inc (Foundation) recently returned from a visit to Sri Lanka where they joined Sri Lankan dignitaries and people of the township of Batticoloa to witness the opening of the new Accident & Emergency Treatment Unit (A&E) within the General Hospital on Hospital Road, Batticaloa, on 17 June 2018.
Hon Rajitha Senarathna, Minister for Health, Nutrition & Indigenous Medicine (MOH), and his deputy Mr Faizal Cassim, together with Dr David Young, President of the FSNTSSL, who represented this Australian initiative, declared open the new facility with the singing of the National Anthem and unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
The building was funded with the Sri Lanka MOH outlaying Rs.547m and the Foundation subscribing Rs.260m plus the architectural drawings and supervision of the construction.
It took seven years since the plan was conceived and three months since the stone was laid for the three-storey, 80,000 sq.ft. building to be constructed by the Central Engineering & Consulting Bureau under the watchful eye of the Architect, Dr Locan Gunaratna, of Gunaratna Associates.
The Foundation was established in Melbourne in 2011 to provide the Sri Lanka healthcare sector with leadership and motivation to construct A&E Units to cater for the burgeoning need for this service lacking through the Sri Lankan public sector. The Foundation is spearheaded by Dr David Young, prominent Melbourne Orthopaedic Surgeon with a keen interest in Sri Lanka, derived mainly from his involvement in sports medicine with the Sri Lankan Cricket team and other faculties of sport. The Foundation’s Patron is Dr David de Kretser, former Governor of Victoria, Australia, who has Sri Lankan heritage.
Foundation CEO and Coordinator Nihal de Run, past pupil of Royal College and former employee in the Sri Lanka tea industry, recruited a team of volunteers and business specialists to assist with fund-raising activities and liaison with Sri Lankan government officials. Committee members include Jerome Adams (Deputy CEO), Dave Paramanandan, Lorraine Fernando and Kirupa Sathanantha (Treasurer). The Foundation has a membership of over 300 and pledged over US$2m for the building and US$1m for medical equipment and furniture. Nalin Pathikirikorale (Vice President SL), Jayantha Jayewardene, Indrajith Fernando, Bobby Jordan Hansen, Chandi Page and Bill Deutrom also assisted with raising these funds through donations from both Sri Lankan and Australian corporates, including an individual donation totalling Rs.45m.
The Foundation provided the following data:
This new A&E Unit is the second in a series of 14 modern state-of-the-art units to be constructed throughout the island to cater for the rising demand for healthcare in this category. Karapitiya in the south was the first, Batticaloa is the next and it is expected that twelve more will be constructed soon. Work has already started at the Jaffna, Polonnoruwa, Kalmunai and Matara hospitals. The MOH is to be congratulated on taking the advice that A&E Units are vitally important not only for citizens of Sri Lanka, but also for the growing number of tourists that visit.
Road accidents is the number one reason for people seeking admittance to A&E units. The better the roads the faster people tend to travel and the abundance of road traffic vehicles is causing a rapid increase in accidents. Other reasons people seek assistance in these A&E facilities are dog bites (anti-rabies treatment) snake bites, stings, poisons, burns and industrial and domestic accidents.
In the calendar year 2017, 21,654 people were admitted for surgery. Of this fifty percent was for major surgeries. Now, with the addition of three new operating theatres, the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital will be in a better position to deal with the patient demand.
An inspection of the new facility revealed, on the ground floor, a spacious reception area for incoming patients and their family members, an Ambulance Transfer area, Triage, Burns Decontamination room, Poison Treatment room, Rabies treatment unit, Resuscitation Unit, Treatment room with 20 beds, Procedure room, Radiology Room, Ultrasound Scanning Unit, and a CT Scanning room.
The first floor has a sixty-bed male & female short stay ward and six high dependency beds.
The second floor has the three operating theatres, one for general surgery, one for orthopaedic surgery and one for specialty surgery including eye surgery, with accompanying preparation and recovery areas.
Nihal attributes the success of this initiative to the public-private partnership (not for profit) between the Sri Lanka MOH and the private sector, a partnership he believes can and should be repeated in Sri Lanka to help grow the country’s health care sector quickly and efficiently. He says this needs special arrangements in key government departments and fast communication lines between public sector organisations as the private sector is accustomed to prompt responses and more written communication. He believes this partnership model can work well anywhere in the world.
“The Foundation’s goal now is to fund a CT Scanner, which will cost US$600,000, and the wheels are already in motion to do this within this year, said Nihal.
For more information, or to make a donation to support the Batticoloa Emergency Accident Project (Project BEAP), contact Nihal on +61-419382142 or Skype: dderun.