As an initiative taken by the New Colombo Plan, 2 Pharmacy and 5 Biomedical students and 2 academics from the University of New England (UNE) Australia arrived on the shores of Sri Lanka with the aim of gaining an insight into the health systems of Sri Lanka. The International Institute of Health Sciences (IIHS) welcomed the UNE undergraduates in June 2016 and provided them an opportunity to participate in observational studies in numerous hospitals and institutes in urban and rural Sri Lanka whilst experiencing the vibrant Sri Lankan heritage. The students were able to gain first-hand experience in the modest and skillful services of a health care system in a developing country and gain an in-depth insight into the ongoing challenges in the structures and practices that affects the current services.
With the generous assistance by the directors of each institute, the students accessed and were exposed to urban and rural hospitals and clinics in Sri Lanka. The staff of the named institutes provided an accurate picture of the laboratory and pharmacy services in the island and outlined how disease surveillance is carried out in a developing country. In addition to visiting hospitals and institutes that have adopted the western models of health care, the UNE students gained an opportunity to work alongside the students from the IIHS Scientific Committee during a research study conducted at the Gangula Veda Madura in Panadura. Here, the participants were able to gain hands on experience in preparing the Ayurvedic treatments while comparing the methods to the Western models of treatment. This placement allowed the students to broaden their knowledge of local Ayurvedic plants and their use in traditional Sri Lankan medicine and healing.
To end a successful program, on the 10th June, a celebratory event was jointly hosted by IIHS and UNE to celebrate the reflection of the Sri Lankan health system by the said UNE undergraduates. The UNE students agreed on the evident determination and commitment by the Sri Lankan government to provide the best available healthcare to the people of Sri Lanka despite the financial, social and political challenges that the country has faced over the years. This event was graced by Dr. Amal Harsha De Silva, Deputy Director General of Medical Services and Ms. Charlotte Blundell, Counselor of the Development Cooperation, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
IIHS and UNE are grateful to the governing bodies of the relevant health care institutes in Sri Lanka for welcoming the students and staff to their four corners and for enhancing their learning experience, namely, Dr. Kumara Wickramasinghe, Dr. Udaya Ranasinghe, Dr. Wijesuriya and Prof. Vajira Dissanayake.
The Director of Academic Affairs and Deputy Chairman of IIHS, Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe states “This second initiative added further value to the already solid relationship between the two countries in an academic and cultural context. But it was also a significant moment for the biomedical and pharmacy spheres in Sri Lanka, as this program because once again not only has it served as an educational experience to the Australian undergraduate students, but also allowed IIHS biomedical students and the staff of the selected hospitals to broaden their understanding of international standards and practices. We at IIHS feel extremely fortunate to be involved in this project and we are thankful that the students and academics graced our shores this year and we are already preparing for the program next year”.
UNE is one of the largest universities in New South Wales, Australia and the Biomedical and Pharmacy faculties are well known for their excellence in the local and international academic fields. IIHS is Sri Lanka’s premier healthcare training institute and is a regional learning centre in South Asia. Currently, IIHS collaborates with renowned international institutes and provides courses in Nursing, Physiotherapy, Health Administration and Biomedical Sciences. IIHS provides state of the art training facilities for its students and the Advanced Diploma in Biomedical Sciences pathway allows the student to upgrade their certificate to a Bachelors Degree at UNE, Australia. Upon completion of the final two years of studies in Australia, students enrolled in this course will be eligible to apply for a two year Post Study Work Permit in Australia. Furthermore, this course will provide an excellent background for many professional degrees including Medicine. A qualified Bio Medical Scientist will be exposed to a variety of career fields with impressive salary benefits.
Applications are now open for the September intake at IIHS for the Advanced Diploma in Biomedical Sciences.