Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday launched an islandwide expansion of the free 1990 Suwa Seriya pre-hospital care ambulance services. According to the government news portal the free emergency ambulance service implemented in the Western and Southern provinces in the first stage will be expanded in the other seven provinces as well.
A Memorandum of Understanding to expand the service was signed by Indian high commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Sri Lankan Deputy Minister for National Policies and Economic Planning Harsha De Silva in Colombo on Wednesday afternoon at the Temple Trees. The service is expanded with a USD 15.2 million grant from India and also another USD 4 million grant for the construction of a state of the art command control and training and research facility, the Prime Minister said.
Addressing the ceremony, the Prime Minister thanked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government of India for providing an efficient ambulance service to the country. “It’s a dream come true for me and my absolute appreciation to my friend Dumi Ratnayake who worked side by side with me from day one (actually day minus) to make this happen,” the Premier said.
The Prime Minister commended the 540 staff of 1990 and the people at GVK EMRI for their invaluable technical assistance to get the service running smoothly. The emergency ambulance service was set up with the assistance from the Government of India in July 2016 with 88 ambulances and 500 Sri Lankan staff in the Western and Southern provinces. He said the government will over the next few months add another 209 ambulances and 1,300 Pilots, Emergency Medical Technicians and Emergency Response Officers across the island. Since the inception, the 1990 Suvaseriya Ambulance Service has provided emergency service to 57,159 people and 51,795 of them have been hospitalized. Of these, 13% were patients suffering from a heart attack and 18% were injured due to accidents.