Singapore and Sri Lanka Team up with a Vision for Better Healthcare in Sri Lanka

Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2 July 2013 – The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and Temasek Foundation (TF) today announced the launch of a three-year training project, in collaboration with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health (MoH) and University of Colombo (UoC) to enhance the quality of healthcare education at a national level in Sri Lanka through the training of local healthcare professionals.

Carried out by the SIF, the training programme is primarily sponsored by TF with a grant of S$385,130, alongside contributions by other partners. It will be designed, customised and implemented by 16 specialist volunteers from the National University of Singapore (NUS), the National University Hospital (NUH) and SingHealth.

The Singapore specialists will train 210 medical, nursing and allied health educators and practitioners from Sri Lanka’s MoH and UoC’s Faculty of Medicine. The key thrust of the programme is to enhance the knowledge, resources and skills of these health educators and practitioners, and to drive national level education that will translate into long-term improvements in the quality of public healthcare in Sri Lanka. The Faculty of Medicine at UoC is the central training centre for medical and allied health professional trainees in the country, while the Ministry of Health is the primary agency overseeing healthcare practice in health institutions around the country.

Among the trainees are 10 key healthcare leaders, 150 clinician educators, and 50 doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who will be given intensive curriculum and pedagogical training to emerge as master trainers. These master trainers will in turn train a further 250 health professionals by the end of the three-year project.

The launch event, held this morning at the University of Colombo, was attended by Singapore and Sri Lankan partners and beneficiaries, including the Minister of Health, Sri Lanka, Mr Maithripala Sirisena, and the Minister of Higher Education, Sri Lanka, Mr. S.B. Dissanayake.

Said Mr Benedict Cheong, Chief Executive Officer of Temasek Foundation: “We hope that our support will encourage the sharing of knowledge and expertise between healthcare educators and professionals in Singapore and Sri Lanka. In the long term, we hope that this will contribute meaningfully to Sri Lanka’s efforts in improving its public healthcare education system.”

Says Dr Dujeepa Samarasekara, Director, Medical Education Unit, NUS, and a Team Leader for the project, “We are thrilled to be a part of this project, and look forward to collaborating with our colleagues in Sri Lanka. The Singapore team is going in with the expectation that we will be sharing our skills, resources and knowledge. But our friends in Sri Lanka are emerging from a turbulent period in their country’s history and will have a rich pallet of experiences to share with us. I suspect it is we who will come away richer by the end of the programme.”

Among the guests was SIF Governor, Mr K Kesavapany, who said: “With this ground-breaking project, we have successfully brought together Singapore organisations and individuals, all committed to the shared goal of making a long-term and positive difference in Sri Lanka. This effort is a reflection of our vision to build networks and collaborations to do good. Projects like this not only set the stage for strong cross-border friendships between governments, institutions and individuals, but also inspire national pride back home. ”

Says, Mr Maithripala Sirisena, Minister of Health, Sri Lanka, “This is a project with many exceptional partners. But we are pleased that the biggest winner will be the everyday Sri Lankans who will benefit from enhanced standards in public healthcare. Those indirectly impacted by the programme will number in the thousands annually.”

Says, Dr W.K. Hirimburegama, Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo, “The strength of ‘Enhancing Healthcare Education in Sri Lanka’ lies in its holistic nature, where the entire ecosystem of healthcare education is paid attention to. As healthcare educators, we are acutely aware of how closely medical practice and medical education go hand in hand. One is dependent on the other and they act to reinforce each other, ultimately resulting in greater impact.”

For Temasek Foundation, Singapore and SIF, this project marks a strengthening of their long-standing commitment to bring about positive improvements and long-term sustainability through capacity training in developing communities in Asia. Both agencies have previously supported projects in Sri Lanka.

SIF’s projects have been in the areas of education, social work and post-disaster rehabilitation work following the 2004 Asian Tsunami. Most recently, SIF partnered with Jaffna Public Library to enhance the services of its children’s section through physical remodelling and training of librarians.

Earlier this year, TF partnered with Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Youth Affairs and Skills Development in a three-year initiative to enhance Sri Lanka’s vocational training system. This includes a two-year programme that will see 60 vocational lead trainers from Singapore training 120 trainers in Sri Lanka.



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