Sri Lanka’s National Neonatal Transport Service is the best in South Asia

Sri Lanka’s national neonatal transport service has been adjudged as the best such service among eight South Asian countries at the BMJ Awards South Asia 2017.

At a glitzy award ceremony held in New Delhi last month the innovative work by Dr. Ramya de Silva of the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children in Colombo to develop a special neonatal transport unit was honored by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) as the winner of the Healthcare Innovation of the Year.

The award was presented to the Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Health recently.

It has been recorded that one-third of premature and underweight babies die within the first month of birth and the Ministry of Health has taken steps to establish a new transport service to protect such children. Medical officers and nurses attached to the Children’s Hospital have been given special training and assigned to the service.

De Silva’s project focused on the development of a special neonatal transport unit. Results showed that neonates transferred under this project arrived in better condition. This led to the development of the National Neonatal Transport Service in Sri Lanka.

Speaking at the event, Minister Dr. Senaratne said this transport service is very important to reduce infant mortality. He instructed the officials to expand the program, which is now limited to Colombo, island wide.

The project is now being scaled up with 15 new neonatal ambulances being commissioned.

Speaking to The BMJ at the award ceremony last month, Dr. de Silva said that the award was a big win for her team.

“The award will help us to improve the visibility of our work and we hope that we will be able to reach out to other countries in the region and help them establish their own neonatal transport projects,” de Silva said.

The finalists for BMJ awards were drawn from 2015 nominations submitted from eight South Asian countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Thirty finalists were shortlisted and 13 winners in 10 different categories were selected.

“The work done by all of them is of the highest standard, innovative in approach, and will make a positive impact on the lives of many people, Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of The BMJ, said at the Award Ceremony.


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