SINCE 2014

Sri Lanka

A seed has grown into a system and more

country updates

Palliative care helps to improve the quality of life of patients in Sri Lanka. Though Lien Collab has made some headway, we need to do more to integrate palliative care into the healthcare systems and change policies to provide better, greater and easier access to pain relief medications.
Dr Ghauri Aggarwal
Palliative care specialist, Concord Hospital, Australia

Our IMpact



trained in palliative care services



involved in palliative care services

In 2019, Sri Lanka’s National Cancer Control programme organised a team-based palliative care training workshop with consultation from Lien Collab. Some 61 participants attended the 5-day session conducted by 17 locals who had completed the Train-the-Trainers programme we ran between 2014 to 2017. 

Governmental organizations with palliative care consultative services

Specialised pain management clinics

The success was in identifying champions who have worked hard to improve resources and access to palliative care in the country. We also developed training opportunities for nursing and medical palliative care and the government has acknowledged palliative care as a specialty. You need engagement from the top down (government) and from the ground up (workers).
Dr Ghauri Aggarwal
Palliative care specialist, Concord Hospital, Australia

Sri Lanka’s population of 21 million has long suffered from inadequate access to palliative care. Such services were traditionally not funded by the government, but instead provided by charities that are heavily dependent on donors.

In 2014, we began working with Sri Lanka’s National Cancer Institute and its National Cancer Control Programme to launch an in-country training programme. Over the next four years, our Train-the-Trainers programme was completed by 50 participants from 20 institutions. In addition, we sent 7 clinicians to Singapore for clinical observerships in 2019, as well as organised a team-based palliative care training for 21 institutions in Colombo.

Participants of a Train-the-Trainers workshop in Sri Lanka, 2019.

Our initiatives to nurture Sri Lanka’s next generation of palliative medicine advocates has been matched by efforts in the country. In 2020, the President’s Fund committed a sum of LKR 20 million to set up a palliative care centre in the Teaching Hospital Karapitiya, the largest tertiary care centre in the country’s Southern Province. A new College of Palliative Medicine of Sri Lanka was also inaugurated in 2021. The college has since awarded its first fellowship and launched a palliative care guidebook for primary caregivers that is endorsed by the country’s Ministry of Health. 

While expanding palliative care capacity, we have also increased access to it. In 2015, a new outpatient service was started at the National Cancer Institute. Outpatient prescriptions for oral morphine were increased from 3 to 30 days at government-approved cancer clinics and palliative care and pain clinics too. A National Steering Committee on Palliative Care was also established in 2016, and it has since developed a strategic framework to advance the specialisation in Sri Lanka.

Dr Sujee Weerasinghe registering the first patient of the palliative care clinic at the National Cancer Institute in Maharagama.

On the Ground

Key Achievements
  • Completed our Train-the-Trainers programme.
  • Prescriptions for oral morphine has been increased from just 3 to 30 days.
  • A new College of Palliative in Medicine of Sri Lanka has been established.
  • The government has developed a strategic framework to advance palliative care in the country.
The programme’s country lead is:

Dr Ghauri Aggarwal (Australia)


Bringing Relief to Asia Together

Lien Collaborative for Palliative Care (Lien Collab) draws on philanthropy, health institutions, palliative care service providers, individuals and more to strengthen leadership and capacity in bringing pain relief to all.

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