Sri Lanka’s first Paediatric Palliative Care Centre opens in Maharagama | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka’s first Paediatric Palliative Care Centre opens in Maharagama

2 July, 2023
The plaque being unveiled at the ceremonial opening of Suwa Arana by former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya while others look on
The plaque being unveiled at the ceremonial opening of Suwa Arana by former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya while others look on

Suwa Arana, Sri Lanka’s first Paediatric Palliative Care Centre opened its doors for paediatric cancer patients. Designed on the overarching ethos of being a place for healing, this pioneering project fulfils a dire need in the paediatric palliative care space in Sri Lanka bringing together a holistic environment of supportive care, designed to promote physical, emotional and psychological healing for paediatric cancer patients.

Facilities at Suwa Arana are free, a home away from home for children with cancer to live with their families

Suwa Arana’s concepts in its architecture and interiors too go beyond the norm, having been designed in collaboration with healthcare professionals, child life specialists and paediatric experts to ensure efficiency, functionality and most importantly, healing.

The soothing colour palette, nature-inspired elements, interactive spaces, personalised touches and prioritisation of safety, hygiene, privacy and family togetherness in trying times are well thought out elements in this state-of-the-art facility.

Suwa Arana houses cutting edge technology and contemporary care services including pain and symptom management, psycho-social support, art and music therapy, end of life and bereavement support, created as a haven for both children and their families. Within the six-storey facility are four patient floors, in which are 32 en-suite family rooms, rooftop garden, ground floor dining, specialised kitchen and recreation facilities.

Sri Lanka’s first Paediatric Palliative Care Centre Suwa Arana opens in Maharagama

With nearly one thousand children diagnosed with cancer in Sri Lanka, seven out of 10 are from low income families. Most cannot afford the cost of medication, transport and accommodation due to their disadvantaged economic circumstances. Suwa Arana creates a home away from home for these children, free in a warm and supportive residential facility.

The Indira Cancer Trust, which was initiated following the demise of Indira Jayasuriya of cancer at the age of 40 is a collobarative partnership with Sri Lanka Medical Association North American Western Region (SLMANA WR) and a collective of foundations, service organisations and family trusts.

The donors for this pioneering Centre for Healing include the Roshan Mahanama Trust, Lions Club International Foundation (Lions District 306B2), MJF Charitable Foundation, Wijerama Family Foundation and The Prince Group, Australia. Support has been extended by a host of persons and families to sponsor rooms, which will ensure the Center’s sustainability going forward.

Former Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who is the Patron of the Indira Cancer Trust, walked the journey of pain his family suffered on the death of his daughter. “We made a pledge at the time that we would never allow other parents to go through that pain. Suwa Arana is truly a place for healing, where we take a holistic approach to care for children who are faced with an unimaginable amount of pain, uncertainty and the snatching away of their childhood. Their parents are truly helpless with no support system to give them strength.”

Chartered Civil Engineer Priyanga De Silva who is the President and CEO of Sequoia Consultants LA, Technical Lead and Co- Founder of Suwa Arana said that he and President of SLMANA WR and Diplomate American Board of Internal Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology Chief of Division of Oncology, Good Samaritan Hospital Partner, LA Cancer Network, Dr Lasika Seneviratne had long envisioned building a palliative care facility for cancer patients in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Seneviratne, who is also a Co-Founder of Suwa Arana presented the proposal for the Centre to the Board of SLMANA WR when the idea was mooted, said, “There was no looking back. The obstacles were many when we started – from shortages, to power outages, to the economic crisis and I’m so proud of this team that came together and made this dream come true for us.”