The Emergency Ambulance Service was launched in the Eastern Province during a special ceremony held in Ampara today.
Daya Gamage, Minister of Primary Industries and Social Empowerment; Dr. Harsha de Silva Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution; Anoma Gamage, Deputy Minister of Petroleum Resources Development; Taranjit Singh Sandhu, High Commissioner of India, and other dignitaries graced the occasion. With this, the island-wide expansion of the Emergency Ambulance Service is complete. The service is now available in all nine Provinces of Sri Lanka.
The External Affairs Minister of India, Dr. S. Jaishankar addressed the gathering through a special video message. He recalled his personal connect with the project since its inception. Dr. S. Jaishankar noted that the service has become a brand in itself. He also recalled how the service had helped Sri Lanka during floods and the recent terrorist attacks. He also pointed out that the project was a great example of what India and Sri Lanka can achieve together.
The High Commissioner of India, Taranjit Singh Sandhu in his address, mentioned that the project symbolizes the spirit of India, which is nothing but the spirit of sharing. He also noted that India will forever remain the ‘First Responder for Sri Lanka’.
The island-wide expansion of the Emergency Ambulance Service was started with the launch in Jaffna in July 2018 wherein the Prime Minister of India Modi joined Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe through a live video conference from New Delhi. The service has been available in Northern Province since July 2018; in Uva since August 2018; in North Central Province since September; in North Western Province since October; Central Province since November 2018; and in Sabaragamuwa Province since January 2019.
During the visit of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to Sri Lanka in March 2015, a request was made by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to the Prime Minister of India, to launch a pre-hospital emergency ambulance service in Sri Lanka.
Accordingly, the 1990 Emergency Ambulance Service was launched in Southern and Western Provinces in July 2016 under an Indian grant of US$ 7.5 million. This grant covered purchase of 88 ambulances, operational expenditure of the service for one year and setting up of an emergency response centre.
Given the positive impact of the project, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe requested the Prime Minister of India for an extension of the Emergency Ambulance Service all across the island.
Modi made an announcement regarding the expansion of the ambulance service island-wide under a GoI grant assistance during his visit to Sri Lanka in May 2017. An additional grant amount of US$ 15.02 million was provided by India to undertake island-wide expansion which covered purchase of 209 ambulances, operational expenditure of the service for one year and training costs.
The service has been appreciated well, given the quick response time, efficiency of operations, and employment and training involving local people.
The emergency ambulance service which can be obtained by simply dialing toll free no ‘1990’ on any network in Sri Lanka, is the largest Indian grant project in Sri Lanka after the Indian Housing Project.
India says it remains committed to further strengthening the bilateral partnership with Sri Lanka based on Sri Lanka’s own choices and priorities and through effective implementation of people-oriented projects.