As we embark on another remarkable year at the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians, it is with great honour and privilege that I write to you as the President, entrusted with the responsibility of leading this esteemed institution.
As we reflect on the challenges and adversities that our nation has faced in recent times, it is crucial for us, as paediatricians, to stand united and committed to our noble mission of safeguarding the health and well-being of every child in our society.
This year our theme resonates deeply with the current state of our world and our beloved nation. “In the wake of calamity: Let no child be left behind” encapsulates the urgency and responsibility we hold as paediatricians to ensure the well-being and future of every child, especially in times of crisis.
The dual impact of the pandemic and economic crises in Sri Lanka has had a devastating effect on child health, leaving behind a trail of severe consequences. One of the most alarming outcomes has been a significant increase in malnutrition among children. The lack of access to proper nutrition has taken a toll on their overall well-being and has hindered their growth and development.
Additionally, the healthcare system has been severely strained, resulting in shortages of essential drugs and medical supplies. This shortage not only affects children who require specific medications but also puts them at risk of delayed or inadequate treatment for various health conditions.
Moreover, another emerging issue exacerbated by these crises is the manpower crisis within the healthcare sector. The shortage of skilled healthcare professionals further amplifies the challenges in addressing the health needs of children effectively. The strain on the reduced workforce will lead to fatigue, burnout and decreased capacity to provide quality care to children.
The calamities have had a profound impact on education, resulting in various distressing consequences. Surveys indicate a concerning decline in literacy and numeracy skills among early childhood learners, highlighting the urgent need for intervention. Additionally, the adolescent population is grappling with numerous challenges, including early school dropouts, teenage pregnancy, cybercrimes, drug addiction, and psychological issues, further exacerbating the detrimental effects of these calamities on society.
Child health in Sri Lanka exhibits several positive aspects, one of which is the commendable achievement of maintaining 99% immunization coverage, even in the face of challenging circumstances. This remarkable feat becomes even more significant considering the current outbreaks of communicable diseases like measles in neighboring countries within the region. However, it is crucial to strengthen our surveillance systems for diseases such as measles, as there have been instances of emerging cases in localized pockets. By reinforcing our disease surveillance efforts, we can further enhance the overall effectiveness of our immunization programs and ensure comprehensive protection for all children.
The combined impact of these factors has created a dire situation for child health in Sri Lanka. Urgent interventions and support are needed to mitigate these effects.
In the wake of calamity, it is crucial that we rise to the occasion and reaffirm our commitment to protecting the health and well-being of every child. We must work collectively to address the immediate need of children. This includes timely and effective child health care, ensuring access to clean water, nutrition and creating safe communities for children.
Education and Rehabilitation: Education is a fundamental right of every child. Calamities disrupt access to education, leaving children at risk of falling behind. We must work closely with educational institutions, policymakers, and community leaders to ensure that children have continued access to quality education.
I urge each and every one of you to actively participate in our initiatives and programs organized by our college throughout the year. Let us leverage our collective expertise, compassion and determination to ensure that no child is left behind, even in the most challenging circumstances.
Thank you for your unwavering dedication and service to the paediatric community. I look forward to a year filled with impactful initiatives and meaningful contributions.
With warm regards,