Monday 27th January
As SLMP results in the same UK primary medical qualification, it is important that the students have equivalent clinical experience in Colombo to that of the UK. This morning we are visiting the government run National institute of Mental Health (NIMH). One thing that runs as a constant theme during our visit is the tremendous hospitality. We could not have been made more welcome, everyone has been so generous with their time and are constantly plying us with refreshments. We felt very looked after.
Speaking of being looked after, the patients of the NIMH are very well cared for. The doctors, nurses, rehabilitation and other staff all worked together, with the aim of all the patients being able to return to the community. The breadth of mental health covered is vast. From learning disability, to psychiatry for the elderly, mothers and babies to eating disorders.
The institute has much open space in between the wards. In these there are many outdoor activities that the patients participate in. The open space also helps to provide a very calm surrounding.
As a General Practitioner, GP or family doctor, it is interesting to hear that GP is not the same in Sri Lanka. We met with Dr. Ruvaiz Haniffa GP and head of family medicine unit at the University of Colombo. He runs a private GP clinic that seems familiar to my UK GP ears. Seeing whole families for over a decade, providing care for long term health conditions and understanding that health and social circumstances are very intricately linked. He invited me to a lecture he was giving that afternoon to medical students at the University of Colombo. As a student I would always gravitate to the back of a lecture theatre, since then my teaching has led me to become more comfortable at the front of the lecture theatre. It was interesting that despite the different cultures the issues are very similar, Dr Hannifa’s was talking about how the family impacts on health and health on family. He could have given the same lecture in the UK and have received many nodding heads in the audience.
After a very valuable interesting day, I went to the roof top terrace of the hotel which had a panoramic view of Colombo. You can see from the photos there is a large amount trees and greenery clearly visible amongst mostly low-rise buildings. The city is fairly open and green for a capital city. One of the taller building resembles the BT tower in London however unlike the BT tower the building is beautiful and looks like the “tulip” that it is aptly nicknamed.