Sri Lanka ranks well above its regional peers in the health sector, which saw vast improvements during the past decade.
Sri Lanka ranks well above its regional peers in the health sector, which saw vast improvements during the past decade. By the end of last year, Sri Lanka had the lowest infant mortality rate, neonatal mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, and stunting rate in South Asia.
According to the UN report on Sri Lanka’s progress on MDGs, 99.8% of all births in the country took place in the presence of skilled health workers, once again well above other South Asian countries.
In 2005, Sri Lanka had 0.492 physicians per 1,000 persons, while there were 1.326 nursing officers and mid-wives for every 1,000 individuals. The numbers at the end of 2014, according to latest available statistics, had increased to 0.68 and 1.641 respectively.
The Mahinda Chintana – Vision for the Future promised to strengthen the health services by enhancing the physical and technical infrastructure, upgrading its human resources and bringing about positive attitudinal changes in order to provide a still a better service to the general public.
In fulfilling that promise, in 2010, 3,366 pupil nurses were recruited. In 2012, another 2,239 were taken in and a further 2,823 in 2013. In November 2014, 5,000 pupil nurses were recruited into the service, making it the first time in Sri Lanka’s history that such a large number of pupil nurses were recruited in a batch.
While increasing the number of health service staff, the Government of then President Mahinda Rajapaksa also made sure that this important human resource was well looked after. The Budget 2014 provided increases in the uniform allowance, telephone allowance and risk allowance entitled to health service staff, while it also brought a new allowance to Apprentice Doctors. The Budget 2015 that then President Rajapaksa presented, included a new salary structure to recognise specialized services, including the health sector, to clear anomalies of those in the lower ranked categories.