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Message from the Main Coordinator – Prof. Martin Persson

Martin Persson, PhD, MPH, MSc
Professor of Health Sciences 

Neurodegenerative diseases (NDD) are one of the world’s leading medical and societal challenges, and there are now expected to be 50 million people worldwide suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.  Sri Lanka is considered a multi-ethnic country with one of the fastest ageing populations in South Asia, and the prevalence of NDD is also rapidly increasing. At the same time, there are no universities or any other educational institution that conduct training programmes in such areas. NDD has far-reaching and often underestimated consequences for informal caregivers (family members, friends and neighbours providing unpaid care) regarding the quality of life, health and loss of income. Therefore, creating trained professionals for treating the elderly with NDD and supporting informal caregivers is a great need for the country. 

We are indebted to the European Union – Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education for approving our nEUORcare application. It has brought forward a consortium of five European and four Sri Lankan organisations that have engaged in fruitful collaboration working to deliver the objectives of the project, which includes the following tangible results:

  • Eight courses that will represent a total of 30 credits (1500 hours) per the Sri Lanka qualifications framework (SLQF) system.
  • The courses will generate a program that will be accredited as either a postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma and master’s by coursework at the four Sri Lankan universities.
  • Eight to sixteen continuous professional development training modules are developed.
  • Twenty Sri Lankan staff will be trained in delivering the courses.

On a personal note, it is the intangible results that are the heart of the project. Over forty individuals are working together to transcend cultural and structural barriers to help patients and families impacted by NDD. The last years in the world have been tumultuous; we all have been affected by the pandemic in various challenging ways, and so has this project. Not soon after the pandemic, Sri Lanka experienced a financial crisis and is still going through the aftermath, which has had a further impact on the project. Even with these challenges and delays, the project is moving forward, and that is solely due to the professionalism and dedication of those involved in the project. It is a privilege for me to have the fortune to work with such a dedicated group of individuals. Therefore, I feel positively assured that the impact after the project has ended is that Sri Lanka will have modernised and increased the capacity to train healthcare students and healthcare professionals about NDD without any further support needed from the European Union. The fundamental impact, though, will be enhancing the provision of care for patients and their families with NDD in Sri Lanka. 

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