March 16, 2012
A milestone was achieved November 22 in conflict-plagued eastern Sri Lanka when a recently built, three-ward medical complex was handed over to local district authorities. The 72-bed complex—comprised of male, female, and maternity wards—is now being operated by the Karadiyanaru Divisional Hospital in Chenkalady, Batticaloa District, and catering to the needs of 60,000 area residents.
“The people of this area are very poor. They are affected by natural disasters and in various other ways,” said Dr. S. Sathurmugan, the Regional Director of Health Services. “This is a great service to them, and through this support we can uplift the heath care standards of the entire district.”
The complex also includes a mini surgical theater, an incinerator, and furniture. It was built by the Reintegration and Stabilization in the East and North (RISEN) project, an initiative funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by DAI. The medical complex itself was funded by the U.S. Pacific Command of the Department of Defense.
A large crowd of local residents, many of whom had already received treatment and service from the medical complex, came to attend the handover ceremony. K. Kanapathi, a resident of Karadiyanaru, said her area has been prone to natural disasters, including the December 2004 tsunami, and has suffered through years of civil unrest. Such a facility, she said, could have saved lives in the past.
“Once there was a time when pregnant women gave birth to children on the road,” Kanapathi said. “We have lost many valuable lives due to lack of proper medical care. Our problem was seen by the American people. You have given us a good district hospital and we are grateful.”
Army Captain Daniel Gomez, representing the U.S. Pacific Command, said that through this intervention the United States expects the Government of Sri Lanka to be better able to provide health care services to conflict-affected communities.
“Good health care services help create a safe and secure environment,” Gomez said. “Once their health care needs are taken care of, communities can go on to improve other aspects of their lives, including basic livelihoods.”
RISEN launched in 2009 in the wake of 25 years of Sri Lankan civil war. The project promotes stability and improves security by reintegrating former combatants into civil society, especially at-risk youth, and building the Sri Lankan government’s capacity to do so. The project also expands access to reliable news and information.