Colombo June 26, 2014: The first state-of-the-art multi-disciplinary Child Psychiatric Unit in Sri Lanka, funded by SriLankan Cares, the community development arm of SriLankan Airlines, was declared open by First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa, last Tuesday (June 24) at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital (LRH), Colombo.
Making a commitment to the betterment of children, SriLankan Cares last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Health and the Lady Ridgeway Hospital (LRH) to upgrade and convert Ward Five of the LRH, to a Child Psychiatric facility.
SriLankan Airlines, Chairman, Mr. Nishantha Wickremasinghe said, “Children are the rightful owners of our future, and they should be given every support and care, that they require to grow into driven citizens who will take this country forward. As the national carrier, SriLankan Airlines has been involved in a number of child and youth empowerment programmes to support many deserving children in their education and healthcare needs. I am pleased to be a part of this worthy cause and SriLankan will continue to care for and support the children through many empowerment initiatives.”
SriLankan Airlines Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kapila Chandrasena said, " We are delighted to support the establishment of the child psychiatric unit as the number of children requiring psychiatric treatment is surprisingly high and often overlooked. Our contribution towards this much-needed facility which promotes the wellbeing of the next generation gives us immense joy."
Though Sri Lanka’s national healthcare policy has a comprehensive strategy for infant and child physical healthcare, infant and child mental healthcare has not been equally prioritized. According to the statistics more than 20% of the children are suffering from some sort of mental disorder /deficiency and are prone to suffer from suicidal tendencies and acute mental disorders in their adulthood. Lack of awareness among parents and general public on mental healthcare and the prevailing social stigmas have hampered the children’s chances to obtain timely treatment. On the other hand, Sri Lanka at present is facing a dearth of trained staff specialized in providing child psychiatric services as the training of these officials need to be provided through proper teaching establishments and training units attached to a national child psychiatric ward.
Understanding the need to develop mental healthcare facilities for children, the project which was estimated at a cost around Rs. 9 million was funded by the SriLankan Cares Trust. The renovated Unit consists of a Therapeutic Unit, Consultation Rooms, Observations Rooms and Resident Patients’ Ward. After handing over the facility to the hospital management, SriLankan Cares will continue to monitor its usage and progress.
The first phase of the project focussed on renovating and developing Ward Five in order to provide sufficient healthcare services to the patients. The second phase focuses on implementing a development plan for national psychiatry services with awareness campaigns, media support and series of conferences, while contributing to the development of infrastructure and supporting research and training.
In addition, SriLankan Cares also assists and facilitates patients at airports with special seating arrangements, wheelchair and stretcher facility on-board, business class upgrades to ensure a comfortable and safe travel etc. Apart from air tickets, SriLankan Cares goes a step further and assists deserving children with monetary contributions for their surgeries in local hospitals.
In keeping with its endeavour to enhance the quality of healthcare and wellbeing of children, SriLankan Cares facilitated the visit of two separate paediatric cardiac teams from the Southampton University Hospital, UK, last year.
In recognition of its continuous efforts at developing and enhancing child healthcare across the country, SriLankan Cares was awarded the prestigious Corporate Social Responsibility Health Promotion Award for the Impactful Healthcare at the Asia Responsible Entrepreneurship Awards 2014.
Ensuring the welfare of the differently-abled, SriLankan Cares also launched a CSR project ‘Disability is Possibility’, which is aimed at changing the attitudes of society towards those impaired at birth or later in life by circumstances beyond their control. As an initial step, SriLankan Cares started a series of staff awareness campaigns targeting its frontline and back-office staff. In December last year, it hosted a gala charity concert with celebrity vocalist, Emmanuel Kelly to create awareness and raise funds for the welfare of the differently-abled children in Sri Lanka.
Main pic- First Lady, Shiranthi Rajapaksa, ceremoniously unveiling the plaque
Inset – SriLankan Airlines, Chairman, Mr. Nishantha Wickremasinghe, addressing the gathering
June 26, 2014
Corporate Communications Department