Speech by Ms Margaret Thevarakom, SIF Volunteer Cooperation Programme Director, at the Enhancing Healthcare Education in Sri Lanka Closing Ceremony

Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala, Director General of Health Services, MoH Sri Lanka

Professor Lukshman Dissanayake, Vice Chancellor of University of Colombo

Dr Dujeepa D. Samarasekera, Director of CenMED, NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

Ladies and gentlemen

Friends

Thank you for joining us this morning to celebrate a successful three-year partnership between Singapore and Sri Lanka in the area of healthcare. This partnership through our Singapore International Foundation (SIF) volunteers is a further expansion of the strong history of cooperation between our two countries that has included trade, urban planning and cultural exchange.

This project - Enhancing Healthcare Education in Sri Lanka - exemplifies the good that can happen when communities with a shared objective connect and collaborate for change. The medical communities of both our countries came together to share knowledge, skills and experiences in areas that impact the quality of medical, nursing and allied healthcare education at the national level. These include policy making, curriculum enhancing and pedagogical training. It started with a multi-disciplinary team of Singapore International Volunteers or SIVs working hand in hand with and training 210 Sri Lankan healthcare professionals - comprising 10 key healthcare leaders, 150 clinician educators, and 50 master trainers - in curriculum development and teaching pedagogy.

In turn, these master trainers have further trained more than 400 of their peers, an impact outcome that not only exceeded our initial expectations but will also create longer-term positive changes in Sri Lanka’s healthcare delivery system. I am also delighted to share that more than 90 per cent of the master trainers have gone on to each develop a set of training lessons using knowledge gained from this project, which are shared with other healthcare professionals in their respective medical institutions. This is how we have, together with our Sri Lankan friends, made a difference to positively impact lives for many years to come.

We are heartened by these encouraging outcomes and their testament to the power of friendships, something that drives what we do at the SIF. We harness the power of networks fostered between Singaporeans and world communities through our programmes, to open a world of possibilities to enrich lives and effect positive change. This is made possible only because of the trust placed in us by our project partners the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka and the University of Colombo. My deepest gratitude goes out to our partners and the medical community of Sri Lanka for this opportunity to work with you to develop the healthcare education system and enhance the capabilities of both educators and practitioners alike. A special mention goes out to Professor Rohan Jayasekara and Professor Jennifer Perera from the University of Colombo for their steadfast support of this project.

A project like this would not have been possible without the strong support of other like-minded organisations who share our vision of building a better world through healthcare training. And for that, we have to thank our primary sponsor, Temasek Foundation, and SIVs from National University Hospital, National University of Singapore and SingHealth.

On this note, I like to express my heartfelt appreciation to the 19 Singapore volunteers, led by Associate Professor Erle Lim and Dr Dujeepa D. Samarasekera from National University of Singapore, without whom this project would not have been possible. Thank you for your tireless efforts and generous spirit in sharing your expertise over the course of 11 training trips, including plenary sessions, and a training attachment in Singapore for the master trainers.

We believe that cross-cultural interactions and exchanges provide insights that strengthen understanding and inspire action for good. Many of our SIVs have given us feedback that in giving their time in this project, they have in return, gained valuable experiences of collaborating across borders and fostered new professional and personal ties with Sri Lanka. I am confident that such enduring relationships will not just end with today’s closing ceremony but will continue to flourish for a long time to come, contributing to the strong bonds of friendship between Singapore and Sri Lanka.

The SIF makes friends for a better world and the Enhancing Healthcare Education in Sri Lanka project has certainly helped turn this vision into reality. Thank you once again, for journeying with us and being a part of this world we envision – one that is more peaceful, inclusive and offers opportunities for all.

Thank you and I wish you all a wonderful day ahead.

 

 

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