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New Military Hospital Reintroduces 'Healthy Army Healthy Nation' Programme

A novel and innovative health approach, ‘Healthy Army Healthy Nation’, campaign, aimed to reduce disability and death (morbidity and mortality) among Army personnel due to Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD) and Diabetes, is now on to increase awareness and prevent them from falling prey to these non-communicable diseases.

The ongoing ‘Healthy Army Healthy Nation’ campaign saw its birth as a project of the Directorate of Army Medical Services (DAMS) after it was found that many military personnel retiring in their 40s upon completion of 22 years of service, had already developed one or more of those CVD conditions that would inevitably lead to complications such as kidney failures and heart attacks during their retirement.

Lieutenant General Daya Ratnayake, Commander of the Army  as the Chief Guest and Dr P.G Mahipala, Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health as the Guest of Honour launching the programme for this year from the floors of the new Army Hospital Monday (19) morning. Commander of the Army in his address to the occasion requested all Army personnel to make use of this opportunity and get their health condition properly examined.

Soon after lighting of the traditional oil lamp Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Director General of Army Health Services welcomed the attendees to the occasion and briefed on the objective of the project.

Brigadier A.S.M Wijewardane, Executive Programme Coordinator afterwards made the introductory address regarding the programme. A multimedia presentation explained what the project is all about. 

At the invitation of Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Director General, Army Health Services, the Commander of the Army took part in the programme in the new hospital complex, together with a host of other senior officers.

A team of medical experts at Colombo Military Hospital (MH), having observed a steady increase in those diseases among Army personnel, launched the project, emphasizing the striking need for a systematic programme of health promotion, education, screening and a continuous surveillance in this direction with a six-pillar model to achieve desired results under the ‘Healthy Army Healthy Nation’ (HAHN) campaign.

This pilot programme, based on the six-pillar model began recently with a ‘Training of Trainers’ workshop at Military Hospital (MH) Colombo where 45 nurses were inducted to carry out the roles of the HAHN campaign at their respective military places of work, focusing 14 Division Headquarters in the Colombo Metropolitan. The model is to be implemented uninterruptedly in all island-wide Divisions soon after the six-month period in Colombo is over.

Establishment of a Health Education Centre at Colombo MH, Provision of literature through ‘Walk-in Information Centre’ every Tuesday at MH, Close management of new and current patients, Regular health awareness massages while in waiting at MH and through pay slips and websites, Establishment of screening and awareness raising units at peripheral units and Maximization of the impact of the campaign throughout, are the 6 main pillars of the HAHN campaign.

With the directions of Major General Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Director General, Army Health Services and Brigadier K.P Sumanapala, Director Army Medical Services, this novel health promotion campaign was spearheaded by four Consultant Physicians, Brigadier A.S.M Wijewardena, Brigadier N.K Ariyarathne, Lieutenant Colonel K.D Duminda and Lieutenant Colonel H. Jayasekara including all hospital medical staff together with the MH’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Nishantha Pathirana with the noble intention of protecting the defenders who protected us and preventing them from becoming the victims of these diseases, Directorate of Army Medical Services said.

Heart Diseases and Strokes are two of the increasingly leading causes of death world-wide. The World Health Organization has reported that 23.3 million people will die from Cardio Vascular Diseases in 2030, in addition to the fact that over 80% of CVD deaths take place in lower and middle income countries.

In Sri Lanka, currently chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in particular Cardio Vascular Diseases (including Heart Disease and Stroke) and Hypertension, Diabetes, Chronic Lung Diseases and Chronic Kidney Diseases are overtaking Communicable Diseases as the dominate health problem and are now the leading cause of mortality, morbidity and disability. It has been reported that over 60% of all deaths in Sri Lanka are due to non-communicable diseases, of which 29% are due to CVDs.

The Sri Lankan government also acknowledged that this is a priority issue in the national health agenda as these diseases lower the quality of life, impair the economic growth of the country and place a heavy and rising demand on families and national budget.