The story behind the Neville Fernando Russia Friendship Hospital


By Don Asoka Wijewardena

The South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) which opened its new Sri Lankan clinical hospital called Neville Fernando Russia Friendship Hospital a few months ago has become the largest private hospital in the country.

The construction of the hospital was the brainchild of its Chairman Dr.Neville Fernando. He spent his own money to construct thea state-of-the-art private hospital for students following courses in medicine at the Malabe Private Medical School.

Chairman (SAITM) Dr. Neville Fernado spoke to The Island about the project and its future plans.

Q: The Malabe Private Teaching hospital has become the country’s largest private hospital which could impart clinical knowledge to the medical students who are following MBBS degree programmes at the Malabe PMC. What made you construct the Malabe Teaching hospital?

When I was dabbling in politics a few years ago, I was practicing medicine in Panadura. I had a dream in my mind that I must do something worthwhile to society in which we live. I thought of establishing a Private Medical School where many medical students would be able to study medicine and would contribute to society. I had a feeling that a great deal of foreign exchange could be saved. I had, on many occasions, requested the government to permit the Malabe medical students to enter government hospitals to do their clinical practice. But many medical associations objected to this. Then I had no alternative but to take a decision to construct my own teaching hospital at my expenses.

Q: You have gone a long way to construct the country’s largest private hospital. How do you feel about this?

My colleagues and I had to face a lot of opposition from many organizations. Some medical organizations were criticizing us. Some said the degrees offered by the Malabe PMC were bogus and not recognized. But the Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayaka was a tower of strength to us. Having understood the hostile activities of the medical organizations, Minister Dissanayaka issued a special gazette notification granting degree awarding status to the Malabe PMC. It was an achievement! A government accredited medical university in Russia has come forward to assist the PMC.

Q: Tell us something about the facilities

The new teaching hospital offers the latest facilities. Medical investigations such as computerized tomography (CT scan), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), ultra sound scaning and all the other medical laboratory investigations could be done at affordable prices. The facilities available at hospitals in advanced countries are available at this new hospital.

Q: What are your future plans?

I have many plans for the future. Some of my plans have materialized. I wish to revolutionise private medical education in the country. I am aware of the ulterior motives of the opponents. They want to have a monopoly over the private practice. They do not want other doctors to enter their kingdom. At the moment around 500 medical students are following medicine at the PMC. I wish to enrol more students to the school in the near future. Since the inception of the PMC, the government has been very supportive.

Dr.Sameera Senaratne is the present Director of the SAITM. He shed some light on the PMC.

Q: Since the beginning of the Malabe PMC you have been the Director of the SAITM. How do you direct the management team to achieve the expected goals?

I attribute the success of the school to the untiring efforts of its management team. We have a well –planned corporate policy which has been governing the day-to-day activities of the SAITM. We have more than 40 consultants who are well recognized. We also have senior professors in each department. In terms of seniority they have the best credentials to be the professors. The medical students are being taught the new vistas in medical science. Continuous updating is done. We also make the latest research on medical science available for the students to read and gain knowledge. The man behind all the activities is the Chairman Dr. Nevelli Fernando. His perseverance to achieve his objectives are laudable. In other words his efforts to achieve success in the private medical education are of vital importance.

Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital Marketing Manager Harsha Subhashana says that Sri Lanka should be proud of having a state-of-the-art private teaching hospital which has come into existence in the teeth of rivals. Patients are able to see a consultant by paying only Rs.150. In addition to this the channel practice after 4 p.m. is available.

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