Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said yesterday two world-renowned German companies, the Airbus and Benz have pledged to invest in an air and land ambulance service which would include 24 helicopters.
The ministry said the assurance was given to the minister during discussion with representatives of the two companies and officials of the German Government during his visit to that country. "The free ambulance package includes 24, helicopters, 1,050 ambulances and 240 breakdown vehicles. The Benz Company will invest in the ambulances and breakdown vehicles while 24 helicopters will be provided by the Air Bus Company," it said in a statement.
The investment for this huge social welfare service programme will come through a soft loan from the two companies after the minister explained the necessity for free ambulance service similar to that provided by India. Germany has undertaken to train the Sri Lankan staff and crew to operate the air and land ambulance service.
The Indian funded ‘Pre-Hospital Care Emergency Ambulance Service’ which was a gift by Premier Narendra Modi to Sri Lanka was launched in July last year with 88 Indian-manufactured ambulances.
At a public rally at the Norwood Grounds in Dikoya recently Prime Minister Modi assured he would expand the free ambulance service to cover the nine provinces. (Sandun A Jayasekera)