Message from the President of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka

Dr. K.Chandrasekher
President
College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka

Message from the President of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka

It is with great pleasure that I send this message on the occasion of the inauguration of the Palliative Care Association of Sri Lanka.

General Practice and Palliative Medicine have a great deal of synergy and much in common. Firstly, both are specialities that cover the entire population, and all diseases, and related medical systems. Furthermore, they follow a holistic approach and emphasize personalized care. Sri Lankan general practitioners work almost exclusively in the private sector and cater to the needs of about 51% of patients, islandwide, seeking primary care facilities.

These patients move in and out of hospitals and eventually many are sent home from hospital in the final stages of their illness. Statistics show that only 10% have instant death while 90% tend to suffer a lingering death. This can lead to great emotional turmoil and suffering not just in dying patients but also for their loved ones who care for them.

Even in modern Sri Lanka many people die at home, and, home is where the GP is. We, at the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka (CGPSL) firmly believe that general practitioners can make a useful contribution to the community by being a team member helping to care for those who need palliative care in the final stages of their life. Training general practitioners in providing palliative care would have an immediate beneficial impact since they are presently involved in providing medical support to such patients in the community.

The College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka (CGPSL) set up the Palliative Care committee about two years back. This committee has been very active since then. Subsequently, CGPSL signed an MOU with the ‘Institute of Palliative Medicine’ located in Calicut, in the Indian state of Kerala, to use their expertise to launch a project to develop palliative care skills and resources in Sri Lanka. This Institute is a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Community Participation in Palliative Care. This collaboration led to the development of a Certificate Course in Palliative Care in partnership with the Institute of Palliative Medicine.

Since then, to date, 301 doctors belonging to the state and private sector have been trained. This was achieved through a two-day certificate course in palliative care with Dr Suresh Kumar and his team from the Institute of Palliative Medicine acting as key resource persons. Those trained included consultants, anaesthetists, general practitioners as well as medical officers from the state sector across the country. The creation of this skilled pool would have undoubtedly increased the quality of care for patients needing palliative care.

For the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka (CGPSL), this project is a further step in fulfilling the mission of the College which is, “To continuously improve the quality of general/family practice care that is delivered to the people of Sri Lanka.” The work done by the Palliative Care committee has intensified interest in palliative care and led to the formation of the “The Palliative Care Association of Sri Lanka (PCASL)”under the patronage, guidance and auspices of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka. This step will lead to even more effective fulfilment of the mission of the College. To ensure synergy and more cost-effective delivery of quality palliative care for patients we, at the College, look forward to partnering with other related institutions both in the state and private sector. Such partnerships, while increasing patient confidence in palliative care service, will also help the government to save scarce resources and use the savings in other areas of the free health service that need to be strengthened to better serve the community.

I consider it a great honour to be heading the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka (CGPSL) when this much needed initiative has been launched. This initiative has been made possible by the excellent planning and hard work put in by Dr. Darrel Mathew, the President of the Palliative Care Association of Sri Lanka (PCASL) and his small but committed team. I congratulate the team members of this young Association and wish them well. I have no doubt that we will witness great work being done by the PCASL to provide effective and much needed palliative care for the community.