Sri Lanka to bar foreigners from free state healthcare
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will ban foreign nationals in the country from getting free healthcare from the state hospitals, under a new government policy for 2020-2025.
Sri Lanka will restrict the provision “government healthcare facilities on free of charge for foreigners,” the statement said.
The document did not specify whether resident foreign nationals working in the country who pay taxes like Sri Lankan citizens will also be restricted from state hospitals or only tourists who get into accidents will be denied free healthcare.
Many tourists however have health insurance but state hospitals do not have a system for billing and getting money from the insurers.
It is not clear whether foreign spouses of Sri Lankan nationals will also be barred from the system.
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Foreign spouses of Sri Lankan are already discriminated against in the banking system and in other areas.
Sri Lanka saw rise in nationalism after independence from British rule, which eventually led to ethnic strife. Nationalism is on the rise in many countries.
Foreign governments however have been funding Sri Lanka’s health system for decades.
Japan in particular has provided free healthcare to Sri Lanka, including the Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital, which is operating on a cost-recovery basis, as well fleets of ambulances from time to time.
India has also given grant funding to start up a paramedic ambulances service in the country. It is not clear whether Japanese and Indian citizens will also be barred.
Sri Lanka’s state health system started by British rulers, initially with vaccination against small pox, which helped boost the island’s population which was around two million. (SB-Colombo/Dec16/2019)
Kithmina Hewage- Institute of Policy Studies