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1990 Suwasariya emergency ambulance service gets fresh boost

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 4 January 2018 00:00

  • Second phase brings 209 ambulances to serve the entire country
  • 70% of annual deaths due to road accidents 
  • Over 45,7415 received service from 1990 during the past year
  • Death rate reduced by 1/6

By Shannon Jayawardena

Taking another step forward with the 1990 emergency ambulance service, ‘Suwasariya’, which is an Indian-assisted project, the Government yesterday signed an agreement to receive a further 209 ambulances under the second stage of the venture.

Deputy Minister of National Policy Dr. Harsha De Silva, representing Sri Lanka, and India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu, representing India, signed the agreement at a ceremony held at Temple Trees chaired by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and Law and Order and Southern Development Minister Sagala Ratnayaka were also present. 

The emergency paramedic ambulances, which will provide immediate service after callers dial 1990, was launched last year as a result of a discussion between Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Wickremesinghe stated: “This is a good example of the Indian success story being transferred to Sri Lanka. Saving any life is a success story and by saving thousands of lives just imagine what you have achieved. So I thank Prime Minister Modi and the Indian Government because now we have an efficient ambulance service which from today onwards will enable us to serve the whole country.”

“Under our Government, huge amounts of money have been allocated for education and health. But from 2017 to 2018, we will face great financial difficulties as we have to pay the country’s loans. We also need to develop our economy on the right path. In such a situation, government expenditure is reduced, not increased. Even so, the Government has been able to surge the amount of money that is channelled to the health and education sectors. We have also worked to improve health services. Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne has taken steps to reduce the prices of pharmaceutical products as well.”

“In the field of education, we will also increase the amount of money allocated for development. Our Government, headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, has given priority to allocating more funds for social welfare. We will continue this work. This year and next year, the public will be able to see the services our Government has provided in the health and education sectors. We are committed to this. To develop the country, people should be given education, knowledge and good healthcare,” he added.

“India and Sri Lanka have a history dating back thousands of years. Buddhism in Sri Lanka was received from India. Countries with such a long-term relationship are few in the world. Deputy Minister Harsha De Silva made a great attempt to implement this program in Sri Lanka. He also took the headquarters to Kotte. Minister of Health Rajitha Senaratne has also supported this program from the very beginning. Therefore, I would like to thank the Minister of Health and the Deputy Minister.”

The emergency service is based on a model developed in India as a public-private partnership with GVK EMRI, which developed as a corporate social responsibility project of India’s GVK Group and was first available in Hambantota, Matara, Galle, Kalutara and Gampaha. It will now be accessible island-wide. National Policies and Economic Affairs Deputy Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva said: “This is truly a momentous occasion as we expand the services of 1990 from two provinces to the rest of the island.”

Under the first phase, 88 ambulances were purchased for the Western and Southern provinces while the 209 ambulances that are to be purchased under the second phase of the program will be used to cover all districts in the country. The second phase of this program, which will cost a total of $ 15 million, will provide the emergency service to everyone in the country said Minister De Silva. He also said that this could be addressed as a small hospital with all the necessary equipment and aid.

Further, to ensure the operation and proper function of the service, a national operations centre has been set up in Rajagiriya. At present over 550 Sri Lankans are employed at the centre, said the Minister. High Commissioner Sandhu said: “This joint project is one of the most shining examples of the India-Sri Lanka friendship. Today we see the fulfilment of a dream and commitment. There is nothing nobler than saving human lives and it is most satisfying to know that we are able to assist our Sri Lankan brothers and sisters in this endeavour.”

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