Field Report: Sri Lanka
With emergency medicine being a brand new specialty in Sri Lanka, the most significant challenge we are facing is the shortage of emergency medicine trained specialists to staff the emergency departments around the country. The first group of EM registrars finished their initial EM training in 2016 and will soon become the first EM trained consultants in the history of Sri Lanka, but many more graduates will be necessary to address this shortage. Other challenges we are facing are the modernization of emergency departments across the country as well as developing a prehospital care and retrieval system.
But we have also experienced successes. Establishing emergency medicine as a unique specialty and training program required overcoming numerous obstacles across a decade of effort and we celebrated our biggest success in 2013: the initiation of a post graduate training program in emergency medicine. The first graduates of this program successfully completed their EM training in 2016 and hosted the Developing EM Conference in Sri Lanka in 2016 as well, which was Sri Lanka’s largest ever gathering of emergency medicine experts from all over of the world. Overwhelming enthusiasm and support for emergency medicine development in Sri Lanka has been extended from many experts all across the world including Australia, USA, Singapore, India, and the UK among many others. We also see the Ministry of Health taking a keen interest in developing a comprehensive emergency health system throughout our country.
Soon, we will achieve another milestone by hosting our first homegrown international conference in Emergency Medicine, SLEMCON, in November 2017. Most of the specialists in training of the first group emergency medicine registrars are currently working in leading tertiary care emergency departments in Australia and UK for one year prior to returning to Sri Lanka to finish as consultants. The current MD program has nearly 80 post graduate trainees training in emergency medicine and each year over 15 trainees will be completing their MD in emergency medicine. We see a bright and prosperous future for the speciality in Sri Lanka over the next decade.
About the authors
We are among the first MD qualified trainees in emergency medicine and belong to the first class of EM trainees. Personally we have worked tirelessly for the Sri Lankan Society of Critical Care & Emergency Medicine since 2009 to promote and establish both critical care and emergency medicine in Sri Lanka. We have been involved in organizing, instructing and promoting standard courses such as Emergency Life Care (ELC), Basic Assessment and Support in Intensive care (BASIC), Point of Care Ultrasonography (WINFOCUS), and numerous other scientific sessions on both Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Medicine throughout the island. Dr. Wickramaratne is completing overseas training in Emergency Medicine as a registrar in the emergency department of Canberra Hospital, but is enthusiastic about returning to Sri Lanka at the end of training to ensure that Sri Lanka’s critically ill patients will receive the best standard of care in emergency departments.