ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is starting a paramedic response service with the backing of India that will see accident victims and those needing life-saving medical treatment being stabilized and brought to hospital within 30 minutes officials said.
Secretary of Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry Palitha Mahipala said the country had very good health indicators and tax payer funded hospitals that gave medical care without fees but there was no paramedic service to give pre-hospital care.
"But we are still lacking in providing pre-hospital care," Mahipala said. "The patient needing emergency medical care has to find their own way to hospital."
Sri Lanka’s free health care service was started by the British colonial administration with civil administrators under Governor North starting small-pox vaccination campaigns from 1802, a killer disease that wiped out populations in vast areas, keeping the population down.
Vaccinations were carried out from 1802, four years after Edward Jenner discovered the process which led to rapid increase in the population, according to colonial records.
Pre-hospital care using ‘paramedics’ or ’emergency medical technicians (EMTs) started in the US and UK in the late 20th century and are operated by local authorities, fire departments and other bodies.
India is giving 7.5 million US dollar grant to start a paramedical service in the Western and Southern provinces of the island in the first phase, India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Y K Sinha said.
The project was initiated following a request by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe after the visit if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Mody to Sri Lanka in March and was under the supervision of Deputy Economic Policy Minister Harsha de Silva.
De Silva however was not present at the ceremony where the first ambulance was down as he was following Sri Lanka’s election rules. The event was attended only by ministry secretaries.
He said 600 emergency personnel will be taken to India and trained to run the service by GVK Emergency Response Institute, a non-profit organization that is operating the service in India as a public private partnership.
A person calling the 119 emergency number in Sri Lanka will have the paramedics being dispatched to the address.
The techs will be in contact with a doctor and provide emergency treatment including oxygen and cardiac care so that the patient could be stabilized and taken to hospital within 30-minutes.
Ambassador Sinha said India also built a 150 bed hospital in Dickoya and 200 bed ward hospital in Vavuniya.