President Calls for Collaboration to Improve Healthcare Services and Strengthen Economy


President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted a concerning trend in the healthcare sector of Sri Lanka: the significant emigration rate among trained medical professionals. He pointed out that around 30 to 40 out of every 100 doctors or nurses trained in the country choose to leave, which is seen as unfavorable for the nation.

The President emphasized the need for all individuals to improve healthcare services within the nation, which has some of the highest standards in medical care globally, and to actively contribute to the country’s economic growth.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these comments during his presence at the inauguration of the accident and emergency care unit of Point Pedro Base Hospital. This facility was built as part of the Government of the Netherlands’ Development Related Infrastructure Investment Vehicle (DRIVE), relief loan scheme and officially handed over to the public yesterday (22).

DRIVE is a subsidy program established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands to support public infrastructure projects in developing countries that contribute to the country’s progress.

The President mentioned that he has directed the Sir John Kotalawana Defence University to increase its recruitment efforts to meet the needs in the medical and nursing fields. He also stressed the importance of enhancing facilities to support training programs in these areas.

Meanwhile, the President pointed out that the Faculty of Medicine, National School of Business Management (NSBM) Green University has been authorized to operate a teaching hospital, and Lyceum Campus has shown interest in this initiative as well.

Additionally, the President highlighted the importance of incorporating modern technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), into the healthcare sector of the country to maintain contemporary medical systems.

The President expressed appreciation to the Government of the Netherlands for providing this facility to the communities of Jaffna and Point Pedro.

An amount of LKR 04 billion has been allocated through the Government of the Netherlands’ DRIVE Concessional Loan Scheme for the improvement of Point Pedro Base Hospital’s infrastructure, including Accident & Emergency unit (A&E), Preliminary Care Unit (PCU), Radiology Development (X-Ray, Ultrasound Scanner, and CT Scanner), Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Operation Theatres, Neonatal ICU, Premature Baby Care Unit (PBCU), Surgical Ward, Maternity Ward, Central Sterile Supply Division (CSSD), Dialysis Unit, and Laboratory. This funding has allowed for the enhancement of modern healthcare facilities within the hospital premises.

After unveiling the memorial plaque and inaugurating the emergency unit, the President conducted an inspection tour and engaged in friendly discussions with the hospital staff. Additionally, the President presented tokens of appreciation to Sri Lanka’s Dutch Ambassador Bonnie Horbach and Managing Director of VAMED Paul de Bruin.

Furthermore, a commemorative gift was presented to President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Speaking at the event, State Minister for Health Sitha Arambepola emphasized the importance of the development initiatives at Point Pedro Base Hospital, considering it a significant milestone in improving healthcare services in the Northern Province. She thanked the Government of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Embassy in Sri Lanka for their valuable support and financial assistance under the DRIVE project.

Governor of the Northern Province P.S.M Charles stressed the need to utilize the modern healthcare facilities at Point Pedro Base Hospital efficiently and effectively to enhance healthcare services nationwide. The governor urged the health authorities of both the Provincial Government and Central Government of the Northern Province to collaborate closely to maximize the use of this hospital for the public’s welfare.

Bonnie Horbach, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Sri Lanka, highlighted the importance of promoting equal rights for all Sri Lankans as a crucial part of the reconciliation process, starting with fundamental rights such as access to healthcare and safety.

About six years ago, VAMED entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Health to develop four hospitals in the Northern Province. The total estimated construction value for these four hospitals is 16 million Euros, with a decision to provide a grant of 25% of that amount, which is 4 million Euros, Mrs. Horbach mentioned.
She noted that due to the challenges and economic crisis caused by the COVID pandemic, the Government of the Netherlands decided to increase the percentage of grants from the total development cost to 35%. This increase demonstrates the Government of the Netherlands’ commitment to improving healthcare services in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.

Minister Douglas Devananda, State Ministers Angajan Ramanathan and Kader Masthan, Member of Parliament Dharlingam Siddharthan, former State Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran, Senior Adviser to the President on National Security and Chief of the Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka, Secretary to the President Saman Ekanayake, hospital staff, and various others were present at this gathering.

Meanwhile, the inauguration of the “Farm to Gate” web application, developed under the guidance of Northern Province Governor Mrs. P.S.M. Charles to enhance business opportunities, also took place at Palali Air Force Base, led by President Ranil Wickremesinghe, yesterday (22).

The “Farm to Gate” platform aims to empower farmers and small and medium enterprises across the country by providing access to broader markets, ensuring fair prices and benefits for their produce, and establishing direct connections between small-scale producers and consumers. This initiative is designed to eliminate the influence of intermediaries and strengthen the economic independence of farmers, gardeners, and small-scale entrepreneurs.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted the concerning trend of medical professionals emigrating from Sri Lanka, affecting healthcare services. He emphasized the importance of improving healthcare within the nation and supporting economic growth. The President inaugurated an accident and emergency care unit at Point Pedro Base Hospital, funded by the Government of the Netherlands. Efforts are being made to enhance recruitment in medical and nursing fields and integrate modern technology like Artificial Intelligence. The event also included discussions with hospital personnel and recognition of support from the Netherlands Embassy. Various officials and dignitaries, including State Minister Sitha Arambepola and Ambassador Bonnie Horbach, were present to celebrate the advancements in healthcare services in the Northern Province, supported by the DRIVE project.

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