Background

At present there is no modern day cardiac service provision in the northern, central and eastern regions of Sri Lanka.  Today, patients needing cardiac surgery are required to travel to Colombo and Kandy. Inevitably, the distances involved preclude urgent transfer for emergency surgery. Therefore, significant numbers of patients both children and adults die before appropriate care can be provided. For patients who are referred electively, travel to these centres is inconvenient and costly. Most would be deprived of the support of their family and loved ones, having been removed from their familiar surroundings. This has implications for their recovery after major surgery.

Demographics: The Northern Province, consisting of the Jaffna peninsula and the Vanni, had a population of 1.2 million people. Based on current population estimates of around one million and incidence of disease, it is expected that about 700 patients per year will require open-heart surgery. Currently the two Cardiologists who have some diagnostic facilities at the government hospital are referring 200 to 250 cases a year to Colombo and Kandy.

There is strong support for developing Cardiac Surgery in Jaffna from established Cardiac Surgeons in Sri Lanka. Nearly 50% of surgeons in Sri Lanka have trained in Oxford, UK. They are now leading cardiac surgeons in Colombo and Kandy. This reflects the lead role of Dr Ravi Perumalpillai as the surgeon in the implementation of this programme.

Therefore, the Foundation approached the management team of the Northern Central Hospital (NCH) Jaffna, seeking to help rectify this deficiency.

The NCH opened in March 2012 and the management team agreed to make available an operating theatre, intensive care beds and ward beds to start a programme for providing cardiac surgical care. The cardiac service provision is expected to commence in early 2013, but is dependent upon the raising of sufficient funds. At this stage, the total funds required are estimated at US$ 2million.This proposed modern facility would have an impact on the provision of intensive and high dependency care and such an upgrade to the NCH would allow for the further development of Cardiology and Cardiac surgery in the region. The NCH, funded through private equity and bank loans, is located in Thirunalvely near the University of Jaffna Campus. It’s siting outside and away from Jaffna town ensures that it does not compete for urban resources.

Infrastructure: The NCH will initially consist of 60 beds for general occupation and 10 intensive care / high dependency beds. The proposed delivery of cardiac services will rely on the building infrastructure provided by the NCH. It includes the following: a dedicated operating theatre, an intensive care facility with a 4- bed intensive and high dependency area, and a 10- bed ward for pre- and post- operative patients. It will also provide basic surgical facilities.