The Establishment of Emergency Medicine & SLCEP

In the late 1990s it was identified that providing emergency care to patients presenting to government hospitals was inadequate.

Emergency care models were established in countries such as Australia & USA at this time. Although the specialty of Emergency Medicine was a relatively new specialty globally, the transformation of Emergency Care through Emergency Physician lead Emergency departments proved to be both patient centred and efficient in these countries.

In Sri Lanka the onus of creating this transformation was undertaken by the Sri Lankan Society for Critical Care & Emergency Medicine (SSCCEM). This organization was formed in 2002 and was lead by Anaesthesiologists and supported by Physicians, Surgeons,Paediatricians,Obtetricians,Radiologists & Cardiologists.

The introduction of dedicated areas in government hospitals to attend to emergency presentations were created. These units were termed Primary Care Units & Emergency Treatment Units. The capacity building for emergency care delivery was fast racked by the main stakeholders the ministry of health and the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine following the 2004 tsunami. Both the Accident & Emergency policy document & the Post graduate training course leading to a MD in Emergency Medicine were initiated in 2013.

The capacity building process for emergency care delivery was further strengthened by the training of emergency care nursing officers & emergency medical technicians for pre hospital retrieval services.

Today Sri Lanka is fortunate that board certified Emergency Physicians, purpose built emergency departments, trained emergency nurses & the efficient pre hospital retrieval services provided by the Suwaseriya ambulance service are transforming accident & emergency services to deliver emergency care comparable to that of developed countries.

The addition of board certified specialists in Emergency Medicine & the fledgling MD training program conducted by the PGIM having over 200 trainees as of 2022 meant the establishment of a professional body to represent the specialty was essential. The Sri Lanka College of Emergency Physicians (SLCEP) was formally established in 2022. The inception of the professional college took an unexpectedly long time due to many unforeseen obstacles including the global pandemic of 2020.

The future for Emergency Care provision to the people of Sri Lanka is now secure and both the SLCEP & the Ministry of Health will collaborate to ensure the best interest of Emergency Physicians and Emergency Care are provided.