By S. Sivathasan –
“Him I call a Mahatma whose heart bleeds for the poor” – Swami Vivekananda
“Those flushed with wealth, let them give heaps of gold, others can opt for cash grants, those who are not so endowed may shower words of blessing” – Bharathy
Swami’s words have inspired humanity for generations. Bharathy spares nobody in his invocation to munificence. Our thoughts may be high and aspirations noble. Yet harsh realities bring us down to earth. However much the sun may scorch Moolai, a park like surrounding will provide a hospitable environment. To a rational individual Moolai doubling its current land availability of five acres would seem basic. The expenses on the totality of all other assets can be easily computed by an architect and doctors conversant with the subject. A rule of thumb preliminary attempt would suffice for the moment. Needless to say, the scale will be a few hundred million rupees. At first sight itself, diaspora participants as major partners would seem vital.
Comparisons and Rising Expectations
Why should investment be so high? In the perception of those who have gone through the mill, there are three essentials of life which are necessarily high cost: Health, Education and Housing. Adding the word affordable doesn’t make them viable nor even acceptable. Having them with all complements has become a compulsion. Settling down to varying degrees of dilution is never an option.
Project for the Improvement of Central Functions of Jaffna Teaching Hospital opened in 2013
“The Jaffna Teaching Hospital now provides healthcare services to the people of the North from its renovated five storey building built through a JICA grant of Japanese Yen 2.298 Million. The new building opened on 13 February 2013 is the only tertiary care hospital for the region. It has a new operation theatre complex, a Central supply and Sterilizing Department, Intensive Care Unit (ICUs) Central Laboratory Complex, and central facilities for diagnostic imaging among other facilities. Implementation: The Ministry of Health.”
Changing World and Latecomer North
Since 1945 following on the end of World War II, the medical world has progressed phenomenally and changed visually on facilities. Internet has brought them all before our eyes. Medical miracles too are easily seen on screen. As with expanding knowledge so with rising demands and vaulting aspirations. Sri Lanka too has been in the process of modernization in the delivery of health services. Buildings and equipment display that change. A few have trickled to the North as well.
Private Sector Hospital in Jaffna
An architect designed building housing a private hospital replete with modern equipment and providing most of the services has made its entry into Jaffna. In a comment to the earlier article on Moolai, a link is given by Anpu about Northern Central Hospital. It is a medium size institution operational from 2012 and is situated 2km from the Teaching Hospital. It can serve as a template for others private or Cooperative. Moolai of course needs several such replications.
Medical Institute of Tamils (MIOT) Symposium
Among the comments on the article is one from Dr. R. Surenthirakumaran who is among noted personages engaged in the resuscitation of Moolai. In a link given by him are 13 presentations from a symposium in London.
They give a broad idea of what is envisaged for Moolai and for Jaffna. More importantly the citizenry is becoming aware of the thought process that has already taken place and also of the great parameters that are being contemplated. What is noteworthy is that ideas are pegged high as per the words of Valluvar – “Ulluva thellam uyarvullal”, let all thoughts be elevated, may all thinking soar high, planning be widest in scope and the beneficiary circle embrace all strata. When translated contextually and not literally, the initiators are seen reaching for such norms and wider horizons.
Proactive and constructive views are seen in the comments to the article and they come from many sides of the globe. Remarkably, the presenters at the Symposium with wide ranging specialist experience have conveyed their views quite candidly. With a touch of realism, they have linked their activities with the political process in North Sri Lanka in a bid to move together. The NPC Minister Dr. Sathiyalingam a medical man himself made a long presentation both exhaustive and informative giving a graphic account of the situation prevailing. With 17 year service, hands on experience in Vanni and 3 years as Minister, he highlighted the issues on ground and the challenges ahead. A practical way of going forward as mapped out by him was Diaspora contribution and public private participation.
Yes, this is the most viable option to develop the health sector for the Northern Province in the next 10 years or more. To rope in the widest spectrum, extensive communication among diaspora in the continents of Europe, North America and Australia is high in urgency. Fair numbers in other countries too have a share to make. May it be known that according to independent dispassionate surveys, Sri Lankan Tamils score high in educational attainments and professional training among refugees. It is also well understood that second generation Tamils rank high in professional segments.
Indians have had a longer history of settling abroad. Their culture of remittance is long standing and was never punctuated by internal civil unrest. Hence the remittance curve has always shown an upward curve. Now India ranks first in foreign remittance. Studies show that this phenomenon is explained by the dominance of professionals’ contribution. The participation of SL Tamils in this process shows a different profile. Reasons are well known, yet blasting the blocks, fund flow needs to be eased.
In my article dated October 27, 2015 in Colombo Telegraph on Demobilization, I have highlighted the ever burgeoning military expenditure making poor relatives of Health and Education. This phenomenon will continue, making the state derelict in its obligations and forcing socially minded individuals to prospect for funds for decades on end. This endeavor cannot proceed on the basis of charity and donations in perpetuity.
With regard to running the hospital, the Board of Management has already effected a turn around. In the financial year ending April 2016, the Hospital has earned a revenue of Rs. 28 million of which a sizeable amount is profit. Profit is an index of efficiency and dedicated work. The performance augurs well for the great plans of the doctors and the Board deserves the plaudits of the community.
A viable recipe to this writer is a mix of ethnic nationalism not neglecting personal advancement. They are not mutually exclusive. Society and individuals to benefit apace. MIOT with clear perceptions can make it work.