THE MEDCIAL PROGRAMME
If you are poor, it is all but impossible to access the government health system in this area. Discrimination means that low caste and illiterate families get cursory and dismissive treatment by government doctors. They have to buy medicine as the state system does not supply it and, typically, are not given an explanation about the necessary treatment that they can understand. Too often, parents are too intimidated to speak.
Often, the only way for the Rainbow Centre to access satisfactory medical care is to use the private system, in clinics run by government doctors, after their morning duties, who can earn a significant income from charging their patients rather than offering free state care. Many of the Rainbow Centre families subsist on a daily income of less than LKR1,000 (approximately £5) a day while a private doctor’s consultation costs between LKR1,500 and LKR1,700. There is also the added expense of medicine which is beyond the means of the Rainbow families.
Thanks to the dedication and contacts of its head of the Medical Programme, Indrani Cooray, a retired hospital matron, the Centre is able to act on behalf of families and monitor and supply medicine prescribed and pay for treatment as necessary. As parents are not able to keep the medicine safe or dry, the Rainbow Centre dispenses medicine and monitors a child’s progress.
Should a poor family find itself in an emergency situation, they are at high risk, unless they have someone with the expertise to act as an advocate on their behalf. For example, one student, aged 12, recently, contracted appendicitis which was undiagnosed for three days before he was transferred to the main regional hospital. He then got lost in the system. It took repeated intervention from the Rainbow Centre to get him treated, and an emergency operation was performed. Three days later, he was sent back to his home in a flooded swamp. He has subsequently made a full recovery thanks to Rainbow Centre care.
Since January 2017, weekly counselling from some of Sri Lanka’s leading psychologists has enabled life changing and life saving support.