Health in Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka provides free universal healthcare and it scores higher than the regional average in healthcare having a high Life expectancy and a lower Maternal and Infant deaths than its neighbors.[1][2] It is known for having one of the worlds earliest known Healthcare systems and has its own Ayurvedic Medicine.


Sri Lankan Traditional Medicine.jpg

The Sinhalese medical tradition records back to pre historic era. Besides a number of medical discoveries that are only now being acknowledged by western medicine, the ancient Sinhalese are believed to be responsible for introducing the concept of hospitals to the world. According to the Mahawansa, the ancient chronicle of Sinhalese royalty. King Pandukabhaya had lying-in-homes and hospitals (Sivikasotthi-Sala) built in various parts of the country after having fortified his capital at Anuradhapura in the 4th century BCE. Ruins of a hospital in Mihintale which was built by King Sena II (851-885 A.C.) that dates back to the 9th century has been discovered and it is considered as one of the worlds oldest hospitals. Several Sinhalese kings ancient Sri Lanka are known to be practitioners of medicine, King Buddhadasa (340-368 AC) was said to be adept in general medicine, surgery, midwifery and veterinary medicine and he is known for the surgical operation on an outcaste (Chandala) woman in order to deliver her child and the surgical removal of a lump in the belly of a snake. "Sarartha Sangraha", a comprehensive medical treatise in Sanskrit is also attributed to King Buddhadasa. King Aggabodhi VII (766-772 A.C.) is known for his medical research and According to the Culavamsa, the king "studied the medicinal plants over the entire island of Lanka to ascertain whether they were wholesome or harmful to the sick."[3] Excavations of the ruins of Ancient hospitals have uncovered several surgical instruments like Forceps, Scalpels and Scissors as well as spoons that are believed to be used to mix or administer medicine. The hospitals in Ancient Sri Lanka had Toilets and baths that were attached to the living quarters .The hospitals had been designed for ventilation and free circulation of air due to two open courts in addition to the windows which indicates that psychological aspects of therapeutics were understood by Medical practitioners.[4]


Sri Lanka has a universal health care system that extends free healthcare to all citizens, which has been a national priority. OPD facilities are readily available in public (general) hospitals situated in major towns and cities, with laboratory and radiology facilities common in most. But most illnesses can be treated in teaching hospitals in Colombo, Colombo South, Colombo North, Kandy/Peradeniya, Galle (Karapitiya Hospital) and Jaffna. All doctors and nurses in the government hospitals are qualified and trained, with some of the most experienced staff working at the teaching hospitals. For emergencies, especially accidents, it is highly recommended to go directly to general hospital accident services as they are equipped with the staff and facilities to handle emergencies.


There are 555 government hospitals in Sri Lanka, in addition to several hospitals treating according to the Ayurvedic System.

A large number of private hospitals have appeared in Sri Lanka, due to the rising income of people and demand for private healthcare services. They provide much more luxurious service than government hospitals, but they are mostly limited to Colombo and its suburbs and also have high prices. Some of the best known private hospitals are Nawaloka Hospital, Asiri Hospital, Hemas Hospital, Lanka Hospitals and the Durdans Hospitals.[5] In Colombo, many of the private hospitals are located in Narahenpita area; namely, Asiri, Asiri Surgical, Oasis, Ninewells, etc. In addition to Colombo, many leading cities such as Gampaha, Kandy, Galle also have private hospitals.

As of 2014 the public sector accounted for 73% of the hospitals and 93% of the available bed capacity in Sri Lanka, while handling over 90% of the total patient admissions and outpatient visits to hospitals.In the private sector, the top five players the Dr Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital (NFTH), Asiri, Nawaloka Hospitals PLC (Nawaloka), Durdans Hospitals (Durdans) and The Lanka Hospitals – accounted for nearly 45% of the private-sector bed capacity, with NFTH the market leader with 1,002 beds.[6]

Medical schools[edit]

Government Owned[edit]

These institutions are government owned and funded. Education is provided for free.

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Colombo was established in 1870. As a medical establishment of 138 years it has been the mother of medical education in Sri Lanka. The Faculty of Medicine has been actively involved in all milestones of Health development in Sri Lanka. It has been responsible for the training and graduation of medical graduates in Sri Lanka according to the health needs of the country. The Ceylon Medical College Council based at the Faculty of Medicine, Colombo still continues to provide the certification of training needed for the licensing of para medical personnel.

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Kelaniya is situated on a spacious 35 acre campus at Ragama. It is one of eight state medical schools in Sri Lanka. The Faculty commenced classes with the admission of 120 students in September 1991.The first batch of students completed their five-year course and graduated MBBS in September 1996. From 2004, the Faculty has adopted an organ-system based integrated curriculum. Today, the faculty has about 1000 students on its roll. This includes several foreign students, mainly from other South Asian countries, who have been admitted on a fee levying basis.


Few other paid medical institutes operates within the country which offer MBBS degree. Kotalawala Defence Academy and South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine offers MBBS degree in Sri Lanka.

Other than that there are private nursing training institutions.

Herbal medicine[edit]

Eye donation[edit]

Sri Lanka is one of the Biggest Donors of Human Eyes to the World, with a supply of Approximately 3,000 Corneas per year.[7]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]