- This series is based on business leader Dhammika Perera’s recently revealed ‘Economic Growth Strategy and Action Plan to increase GDP Per Capita from $ 4,000 to $ 12,000’. The document outlines goals and action plans for 23 ministries and today’s column focuses on the Ministry of Health
- Access to good and affordable healthcare.
- Pursue medical excellence.
- Facilitate people to reach their fullest potential in health.
- 50 million patients visit OPDs annually.
- 15,000 daily admissions.
- 5 million patients admitted annually for treatments.
- 1,085 hospitals in the Country.
- 83,275 total hospital bed count.
1. Increase the average life expectancy by an additional 3 years through improvements in healthcare facilities.
2. Identify the top 10 reasons for deaths in Sri Lanka and take the necessary preventative measures.
The top 10 causes of death are:
a. Coronary heart disease.
d. Wheezing or asthma.
e. Alzheimer’s disease.
f. Lung illnesses.
g. Chronic lung diseases.
i. Chronic kidney disease.
3. Develop fully-fledged hospitals in the 7 main corridors to Colombo (Moratuwa, Piliyandala, Kottawa, Battaramulla, Kadawatha, Ragama and Negombo).
a. Public outskirts of Colombo will get access to high quality healthcare.
b. This will reduce the number of people coming into Colombo City for healthcare.
4. Establish an Oncology (cancer) unit at a hospital in each district in association with Maharagama Cancer Hospital.
5. Establish a modern and fully equipped patient testing laboratory in each district.
6. Build fully equipped health centres for heart, lung, neurology, Ophthalmology (eye) and paediatric illnesses in association with the respective specialised Colombo hospitals.
7. Introduce a new overtime payment scheme for doctors and medical staff to reduce the waiting time of patients for surgeries.
a. Currently, patients are listed on the waiting list for 1 week to 10 months.
b. With the new payment scheme, theatres which are used for 8 hours of work can be extended to 12 hours, including Saturdays and Sundays.
8. Apply the overtime payment scheme to all medical staff in order to make use of underutilised theatres, test and scan rooms to reduce the waiting time for patients.
9. Increase the intake of medical students from 1,300 to 2,000 at Government universities to address the shortage of qualified doctors in the country.
Increase other relevant healthcare staff.
10. Increase the intake of students in Nursing Colleges.
Sponsor foreign scholarships for senior level nurses to upgrade their skills.
11. Encourage the establishment of private hospitals through 0% corporate tax and 0% VAT incentives.
a. Additional insurance schemes will be provided to Government servants to receive medical care.
b. Patients waiting in month-long queues for operations will be transferred to these hospitals.
12. Introduce a “Digital Health Hub” (DHH) which will be available both online and via a mobile app.
DHH can be accessed with the Digital National Identity Card.
A strong and healthy population lives longer and is more productive. This makes an important contribution to the economic progress of a nation
Services of the DHH include:
a. Access to patient’s health history for the past 10 years.
b. View time slots available for scans, doctors’ appointments at all hospitals/clinics.
c. Alerts on scheduled appointments.
13. Develop an online portal to monitor stock availability of medicines in each hospital.
a. This can track medicine stocks available in other hospitals in a stock out situation.
b. Hospitals can order stocks in advance to avoid stock out situations by checking current stock counts digitally.
14. Digitalise the hospital bed distribution at wards to ensure the maximum utilisation of hospital beds.
15. Digitalise all test lab reports of patients in collaboration with the blood bank and use these 16. reports to forecast the patterns of the patient’s medical conditions.
Patients can take necessary preventive steps to control any medical condition.
16. Develop and maintain toilets according to the following standards:
a. 1 toilet for every 20 inpatient users.
b. At least 4 toilets per outpatient setting.
c. Separate toilets for medical and general staff.
17. Introduce and maintain an affordable pricing policy for essential drugs and equipment.
18. Maintain an agreed quality standard on medicines when released to markets.
Introduce labels with the content of medicine and details on any side effects.
19. Provide easy access to needed medical facilities for families who cannot have children due to medical reasons.
20. Geo-tag kidney patients and identify affected areas, including those prone to Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and construct deep-well (bore well) facilities with proper filtration. Already certain villages are equipped with the above-mentioned water purification systems, e.g. Saddiyawara project by Hayleys PLC.
21. Distribute soil health cards and soil-test base fertiliser recommendations.
Currently, 35,000 containers of fertiliser are imported. With the introduction of soil health cards and fertiliser recommendations, 20% (7,000 containers) of imports can be reduced.
22. Introduce Tele-medicine services to provide information and diagnosis by healthcare professionals, especially for rural areas through an online call or through preloaded data.
23. Develop videos to promote physical activity among adults and children to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases.
24. Implement proper waste disposal methods at all hospitals.
25. To attract professional medical staff to rural postings:
a. Build international schools for their children.
b. Fully renovate rural hospitals with necessary healthcare facilities.
c. Encourage building of private hospitals for private practice.
d. Facilitate doctors’ quarters with all essential items.
26. Accelerate reforms in the paramedical education sector to increase the availability of nurses, pharmacists and other paramedical personnel.
27. Introduce an accident-free house planning guide for senior citizens above 65 years of age.
28. Develop Ayurveda treatment segment:
a. Provide training and access to new methods used in Ayurveda for practitioners.
b. Plant more herb farms to strengthen Ayurveda medicine production.
c. Introduce income and pension schemes for Ayurveda practitioners similar to Western medicine doctors.
d. Assist top Ayurveda practitioners in the country to establish treatment centres at tourist hubs.
29. Introduce a “Low Risk Drinking Guideline” to reduce health risks associated with drinking.
30. Introduce a guideline on recommended sleeping habits for all age levels to promote a healthy lifestyle among citizens.
31. Raise awareness on mental health issues and establish centres with the necessary professional staff and equipment for counselling and treatments.
32. Introduce an application with behavioural analytics technology to identify individuals with depression and anxiety.
33. Develop online video-based training programs to teach basic first aid techniques for the public in emergency situations.
34. Conduct good health habit workshops at schools, workplaces, hospitals and religious institutions.
35. Address the issue of absenteeism of girls due to menstruation, following steps to be taken:
a. Conduct awareness programs at schools, communities and families covering areas such as:
i. The process of menstruation.
ii. The importance of washing menstrual cloth.
iii. Types of absorbents that can be used during menstruation.
iv. Build the confidence of adolescent girls and educate them to accept the changes which happen during menstruation.
v. Prepare adolescent girls and their families on what to expect during menstruation and how to take care of their hygiene during that period.
b. Develop online awareness videos on menstrual hygiene.
c. Establish disposal mechanisms.
d. Develop water, sanitation and hygiene-related facilities supporting menstrual hygiene management (one toilet for every 40 girls, with water and soap).
e. Promote production of sanitary napkins at village level.
f. Counsel and support adolescent girls on how to improve their diets.
g. Conduct training programs for social development officers and teachers.
Objectives of this training program are:
a. To understand the importance of menstrual hygiene management.
b. To develop skills and capacities to address menstrual hygiene management in schools and the community level.
36. Establish active health labs around the country for health and wellness, especially of sportspersons, by giving them a free reading of their health parameters.
37. Launch a website and an app with essential information for new and expecting mothers with details about what to expect, when to get vaccinations, when to see the doctor, and book appointments with doctors.
38. Allocate free airtime and print space for health promotion, particularly for non-communicable disease risk factors in Sinhalese, Tamil and English.