Sept 18, Colombo: Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) has agreed to provide a concessional loan amounting to Saudi Riyal 187.5 million (approximately USD 50 million) to establish a Medical Faculty in the University of Sabaragamuwa. The balance USD 20.46 million will be borne by the Government of Sri Lanka, the Finance Ministry said.
Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance on behalf of Sri Lanka and Dr. Khaled Sulaiman Alkhudairy, Vice Chairman & Managing Director on behalf of the SFD signed the relevant Loan Agreement today, 18th September at the Ministry of Finance in Colombo.
The Government has already approved the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine at Sabaragamuwa University and has allocated necessary funding through the budgetary allocations of the year 2017. Further, the first batch of students for the Medical Faculty has already been enrolled.
In line with the Government Policy Framework "Vision 2025", the Government views the provision and improvement of social goods such as education, skill development, and healthcare as part and parcel of its development agenda.
According to available information of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, the number of Medical Officers per 100,000 populations in Sri Lanka is about 77. However, as per the World Health Organization, Medical Officers density per 100,000 populations in developed countries such as USA, UK are much higher than the Sri Lanka rate.
Thus, the Government will take steps to increase the tertiary education by increasing the state university enrolment. As the Government strives to extend the benefits of development to every part of the country, establishing healthcare facilities of appropriate standards should be accompanied with quality and trained health care professionals in the country.
The cooperation between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was initiated with extending a loan of US$ 30 million for Second Water Sector & Sewerage project in 1981 through the Saudi Fund for Development. The development projects financed by the SFD by providing concessional financing are significant milestones of the relationship between two countries. The total amount of loans extended by the SFD as at end of 2018 was US$ 386 million. The priority areas of the SFD assistance are; Road, Health, Irrigation & community Development sectors, Higher Education etc.