(PORTLAND, ORE. - July 11, 2008) Robert Blake, the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, recently recognized the groundbreaking work of Medical Teams International in Sri Lanka.
The Portland-based agency has been working in Sri Lanka since the devastating South Asian tsunami crashed ashore in 2004. Medical Teams International’s programs transitioned from disaster relief to long-term development two years ago when staff and volunteers began laying the groundwork for a nationwide Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system.
Sri Lanka’s 20 million people have not had access to lifesaving EMS care or an ambulance system. Instead, they relied on relatives or neighbors to transport them to the hospital following an injury, often by rickshaw. The EMS project, supported by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health, private NGOs and other government bodies, is working to change that reality.
“Although most tsunami reconstruction work is now complete, many private American efforts continue linking the people of America and Sri Lanka,” says Blake. “A group of Sri Lankan medical first-responders have been receiving Emergency Medical Technician training…from Medical Teams International.”
This fall, eight Sri Lankan first responders are planning to visit Oregon for an advanced instructor training sponsored by Medical Teams International. “They will become instructors themselves in medical first response,” says Blake. The exchange will provide them with skills, training and experience currently unavailable in the country. When they return home, they’ll be U.S. certified EMS instructors—the first of their kind in Sri Lanka.
Founded in 1979 as Northwest Medical Teams, Medical Teams International is a non-profit humanitarian relief and development organization that exists to demonstrate the love of Christ to people affected by disaster, conflict and poverty around the world. In its 29-year history, Medical Teams International has deployed more the 1,650 volunteer teams and shipped more than $1 billion in antibiotics, surgical kits and lifesaving medicines to care for 35 million people in 100 countries.