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Sri Lanka


Patient Safety initiatives in Sri Lanka towards achieving Universal Health Coverage 2018-05-23

Side event :Patient Safety initiatives in Sri Lanka towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC)   22nd May 2018 , 1800 hrs SALE XXIII (23)

  • Excellency the Chair,
  • Hon. Ministers of Health,
  • Distinguish delegates
  • Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Good evening to all. I  am pleased to address this side-event  on “Global Action on Patient Safety for achieving effective Universal Health Coverage” organized by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Japan, Federal Republic of Germany, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, WHO Secretariat and also co-sponsored by China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Oman, Poland, South Africa  along with Sri Lanka.

2. Sri Lanka provides free healthcare services and free education to all it’s citizens.  We have achieved remarkable health outcomes whilst being cost effective, as endorsed so by many  health economic critique.

3. We are committed towards improving  our health services further, through the incorporation of quality and safety, under a very well structured approach

4. For us patient safety is an important driver towards achieving Universal Health Coverage.

5. Let me describe some pertinent steps taken.  A major milestone was the establishment of the Directorate of Healthcare Quality and Safety in 2012, under the medical services division.

6 Its main aim is  to facilitate providing demonstrable best possible quality and safe healthcare services through processes of continuous improvement while responding to customer expectations. The National Policy on Healthcare, Quality and Safety launched in 2015 serves as the foundation of our program, which covers seven key areas, more importantly patient satisfaction and patient safety.

I wish to elaborate further on the main components of National Healthcare, Quality and Patient Safety Programme.

7. We Introduced 20, quality and 24, clinical indicators to all healthcare institutions.  It was a significant turning point. These 24 clinical indicators were meant to directly measure clinical effectiveness of all four major specialties, including  microbiology.

8. Conducting patient satisfaction surveys is now mandatory in all health care institutions at least twice a year. Going a step further, since of last year selected hospitals have already started conducting patient experience surveys as a pilot.

9. We have also embarked our attention on patient centered care through several measures adopted to improve responsiveness in healthcare delivery.  As a special advocacy, the Directorate of Healthcare, Quality and Safety developed a teledocumentry which has been widely disseminated.  This highlights practical aspects giving case scenarios. 

10. In several hospitals we have introduced systems of Digitalization that is intended to minimize waiting times and medical errors.

11. The quality and patient safety program is noteworthy for the efforts in creating the supportive governance framework.  The Adverse Event, Readmission reporting guidelines, Surgical Safety Checklist, National Action Plan on preventing medication errors, Infection control protocols are noteworthy.  Under  the National action plan on preventing medication errors, 04 key components have been addressed namely; systems and practices, healthcare professionals, medicines and patients with the aim of reducing adverse drug reactions and medication without harm. Several national clinical guidelines are already developed and many are in preparation.   

12. An important feature of our program is the emphasis given to building leadership capacity and human resource capabilities for improving quality and patient safety at all levels of healthcare. The program has also incorporated second line of leadership development on Quality, Patient Safety and clinical audits.  Supporting this we have A post graduate diploma on Healthcare, Quality and Safety by the a   University of Colombo since 2017

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

13. Our training has been extended internationally and many overseas participants have benefitted from training programs conducted in Sri Lanka.  The program is known as the quality and safety "third country training programme". Up to date we have trained 60 foreign health professionals of 03 batches from countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, Ghana, Cambodia and Ethiopia. Sri Lanka is interested to take this further considering to establish a regional collaboration center on patient safety for South East Asian Region with the assistance of the WHO

14.  I must mention that a research culture is being promoted to enhance further our developments in patient care quality and safety.   Research areas are in patient experience, patient safety, medication safety and clinical effectiveness.   They have made a significant contribution in our journey.

 15. We strongly believe in the contribution of sound monitoring and evaluation mechanisms of the performances of hospital based on statistics and indicators. We have systematically made the improvements based on those findings.  This has further added to creating a patient safety and quality culture within our institutionsThe web based monitoring system in the near future will further improve our system.

16. Now let me mention our way forward towards excellence in healthcare. The medical services in Sri Lanka is embarking to establish National Accreditation System for all healthcare institutions. Under this programme, healthcare institutions responsible for curative care will be accredited from year 2019 onwards.


17. Sri Lanka  extended fullest cooperation in Global Quality and Patient Safety Movements by hosting two major international events. These are the Inter-regional Consultation on Patient Safety; Incident Reporting and Learning Systems in Africa and Asia Pacific regions, held in March 2016 in Colombo and 5th Consultation of the Healthcare Quality Improvement Network in November 2016.

18. I would like to highlight before ending my brief statement the importance of establishing clear policies, organizational leadership capacity, data to drive safety improvements, skilled health care professionals and effective involvement of patients in their care, which are essential to ensure sustainable and significant improvements in the safety of health care.

No doubt it is very much important to prioritize patient safety as a prime mover in achieving effective Universal Health Coverage strategies. It surely must be our collaborative responsibility as leaders to develop and support the learning systems.

With our experience, we have seen that Human Resource capabilities can be a key constraint and therefore, it is very much important to provide sufficient investment to clear this hurdle.

19. As Sri Lanka is currently focusing towards restructuring and strengthening of primary healthcare in the island. We have observed that patient safety and quality issues should be an integral part of the developments.  Primary health care has been our strength in the past, but in taking it further to address the present challenges and the changes that we are embarking on, we will integrate the plans for quality and safety.

20. The National Quality and Safety program in Sri Lanka is in line with the global action plan on patient safety and we have come a long way.  Whilst we can share our best practices in many ways, we believe that the National Quality and Safety program is making a significant contribution in our journey in preserving Universal Health Coverage. Sri Lanka is ready to learn and support other developing countries in advancing efforts towards Universal Health Coverage.

Let us make patient safety; A concern for all.

Thank you chair.