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OFFICIAL REPORT – 2017 Medical Mission

AUSLMAT embarked on its annual trip to Sri Lanka at the end of June 2017. The group comprised 10 doctors, nurses and supporters, all from Melbourne. Of course, there were many other local people involved, including our drivers, interpreters and local supporters who helped to deliver our equipment and also provided well needed assistance at our clinics. We were also welcomed and supported by the local specialist doctors and nurses at the various hospitals and clinics we visited.

The trip commenced with Dr Quintus de Zylva and Dr Jennifer Johns being interviewed by Colombo TV station Derana. The interview explored the work done by AUSLMAT since the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and went to air a few days later.

The group congregated in Negombo and headed towards Batticaloa on the east coast, stopping in Dambulla overnight to enjoy the sights of Sigyria and Minneriya.   At Batticaloa Teaching Hospital, endocrinologist Dr Dharshini Karrupiah, chaired a very successful half day conference, entitled “Caring for your patient with older age and diabetes.” Several AUSLMAT team members gave lectures, including geriatricians Dr Sanka Amadoru and Dr Rajni Joseph, intensive care specialist Dr Irma Belgrami and diabetes educator Ms Preethi De Silva. The meeting was very well-attended and there was excellent engagement by the local doctors and nurses. We delivered insulin syringes and diabetes monitoring equipment, kindly donated by medical supply company BD and by Preethi De Silva. Dr Jennifer spent a day with cardiologist Dr Kanagasingam Arulnithy, advising on some complex cardiac patients and delivering a transport ventilator, donated by Mr Max Nayagar, head of biomedical engineering at the Alfred Hospital.

The team visited Valaichennai District Hospital, which we have visited on several previous occasions. The staff do an excellent job of caring for the local community, especially in the areas of rehabilitation following stroke and psychiatry. However, the hospital is very under-resourced and struggles to cope with demand. We did a general medical clinic in Valaichennai, focussing on hypertension and diabetes. We were also performed eye-testing on several patients and were able to provide them with reading glasses donated by many of our supporters.

The next stop was Matara Hospital, where we renewed friendships with several colleagues, including cardiologist, Dr Roshan Gunaratne. Dr Jennifer consulted on several complex cardiac patients and gave a lecture on “Recent Advances in the Management of Heart Failure.” We have previously donated equipment such as defibrillators and ECG machines to the cardiac unit at Matara.

The team also visited Akuressa Hospital where we have previously donated medical equipment – wheelchairs, surgical equipment and wound dressings.

Associate Professor Omar Farouque from the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, spent the week in the catheter laboratory at Karapitiya Teaching Hospital. He supervised and supported the interventional team, headed by Dr Sathananthan. The team at KTH have become very skilled at coronary intervention over the past few years. Approximately 20 complex patients underwent procedures with stent insertions and many more patients will be treated over the coming months. Our heartfelt thanks to Jody Douglas from device company Terumo and Tamara Rapoport from Medtronics. They provided dozens of state of the art catheters, stents, guidewires and other interventional equipment for use in patients who could not afford their treatment in Sri Lanka.

Finally, a large general clinic was held in Weligama at the Hemachandra Maha Vidyalaya. More than 100 patients were seen by AUSLMAT doctors, assisted by Drs Piumika Jayawardena, Upali Mendis and Dharmapriya Wijesinghe from Sri Lanka.

It was a very busy and rewarding trip. There have been positive changes in Sri Lanka over the past 13 years, but there is still much more to do!

Please visit our photo gallery to see just a snippet of our work which many of you have so graciously contributed to in both time and money (for goods and transportation).   If you feel compelled to contribute, or know anyone who does want to further our cause, please click on the DONATE NOW button above.  We will gladly accept any level of assistance.

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