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nEUROcare Project

A European initiative for capacity building to meet the challenges of caring for people with neurodegenerative disorders in Sri Lanka

About the project

 “nEUROcare – a European initiative for capacity building to meet the challenges of caring for people with neurodegenerative disorders in Sri Lanka” is a project aimed for the Capacity Building in the field of Higher Education (CBHE). This is a joint project through the main coordination of Kristianstad University (Sweden) with partner Universities in Europe and Sri Lanka namely Triskelion (Norway), University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), University of Tartu (Estonia), Neapolis University Pafos (Cyprus), University of Colombo (Sri Lanka), University of Ruhuna (Sri Lanka), University of Peradeniya and Kotelawala Defense University (Sri Lanka).

The project addresses the essential priorities set by the CBHE, Curriculum development in “health” is of a priority in Asia, considering the neurodegenerative diseases (NDD) as a significant health problem in near future. The ultimate target of the programme is to establish a postgraduate education programme (Masters of NDD) by coursework in each Sri Lankan partner Universities with the accreditation and approval from the University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka and before the end of the project time life the academic programme and be implemented continuously.

The project proposal has been approved for granted funding by the European Union and the total grant of the project is 828,236.00 EURO with four years’ time duration starting from January 2021 to January 2025.

Significance of the project

The prevalence of NDD in Sri Lanka is rapidly increasing. NDD, including dementia, affects memory, language, perception and thought that significantly interferes with the ability to maintain activities of daily living. NDD such as Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Parkinson diseases are results of gradual and progressive loss of neuronal cells. These would be the most threatening issues encountered in the elderly population. Among the NDD, dementia is one of the toughest challenges in healthcare and presents a looming threat to financial and social systems across the developed and developing world. Evidence indicates that the NDD is becoming a significant threat to the country and also emphasize the importance of laying down measures to reduce cognitive decline or NDD and early identification to prevent the move towards the continuum. Furthermore, since the elderly population is increasing, the number of elderly care institutions are mushrooming in the current society in Sri Lanka. NDD has a profound impact on people living with the condition, their family and friends, and society at large. The direct and indirect economic costs for NDD are estimated to be higher than the costs of any other major disease. These issues might get aggravated as economic development in Sri Lanka does not occur in parallel with increasing elderly population or with an increasing prevalence of diseases.

Even though elderly with NDD is increasing, the capable caregivers specialised for NDD care are not adequately available in Sri Lanka. The quality of life of elderly individuals, living standards of their families and even the whole society will be affected by this issue and it becomes paramount to understand how lifestyle factors influences NDD in order to generate preventive interventions.   Furthermore, 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), in terms of quality of life, health and loss of income. Therefore, creating of trained professionals for treating the elderly with NDD is a great need for the country.

In a country like Sri Lanka, stigma, denial and inadequate financial resources remain critical barriers for proper treatment and care of NDD. Still, the biggest obstacle is that there is no appropriate training for healthcare professionals about neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, policy-makers, government, providers, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders should start to search for appropriate, yet cost-conscious ways to meet the growing needs of people with NDD and their family, friends and carers.

Currently, there is a lack of postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma or Masters Courses on neurodegenerative diseases for health care professionals in the country. Therefore, initiating such programs will be benefitted both clients as well as health care professionals. Furthermore, this type of programme would be necessary for the country in order to improve awareness and education on NDD among the general public, improve early diagnosis and treatment for NDD, improve support available at home for patients with NDD, strengthen support available to family care-givers on NDD care, improve residential/ institutional care for NDD care, better integrate care pathways and the coordination of care for NDD, improve training for healthcare professionals for NDD, monitor progress, commitment to research on NDD care and further enhance innovative technologies.

The four universities from Sri Lanka involved with the project are covering the area of the highest population density in Sri Lanka, and there is a significant need to increase the capacity to train healthcare students and healthcare professionals about NDD.  Further, the staff from Sri Lankan Universities will further benefit by learning new methodologies and pedagogical approaches because they are actively involved and designing the courses together with their European counterparts.  This will enhance their teaching competence in all subjects they are teaching at their university. This will also contribute to the strengthening of the internationalization of Sri Lankan universities as well as increase the capacity to conduct research in this area.

Furthermore, the project adheres to the priorities identified in the New EU consensus on Development”, especially concerning the 3rd Sustainable Development Goal (SDG3) aims at globally improving everyone’s health and well-being in the world. 

Project benefits 

  1. To improve the quality of higher education and enhances its relevance for the labour market and society.
  2. To improve the level of competences and skills in HEIs by developing new and innovative education programmes and research.
  3. To foster regional integration and cooperation across different regions of the world through joint initiatives, sharing of good practices and collaboration.
  4. Increases the capacities of involved Partner Country HEIs’ authorities to modernise their higher education systems in relation to neurodegenerative diseases.
  5. To contribute increasing the capacity to deliver a better provision of care for individuals in Sri Lanka that are affected by NDD.
  6. To give the opportunity for every person who need to enroll in the programmes to learn at any time and at any place with the help of any lecturer, using any device with Innovative Education Technologies such as teleconferencing
  7. To maintain sustainable academic network for sharing experience and exchange of good practices in the field of NDD care
  8. To benefit all stakeholders in education and health, national and university policy-makers in the field of education and health and university academics who are trainers / lecturers
  9. To enhance the health standards in Sri Lanka through scientifically proved explanations and solutions to the existing problems in the mentioned fields

Aims of the project

  • To develop a NDD study programme that will consist of several course modules that will represent a total of 30 credits (1500 hours) in accordance with the Sri Lankan Qualification Framework (SLQF) system that will be accredited on Masters by coursework before the end of the project time life.
  • To develop several continuous professional development (CPD) training modules will be developed and delivered to healthcare students and healthcare professionals in the regions the Sri Lankan partners are represented.
  • To enhance the infrastructure facilities of the Sri Lankan partner Universities.
  • To enhance capacity of staff from Sri Lankan partner universities by strengthening them learning new methodologies and pedagogical approaches by actively involving and designing the courses and research together with their EU counterparts.
  • To provide wide awareness on NDD and related management among the Sri Lankan and global community through educational conferences and dissemination activities.
  • To support the modernisation, accessibility and internationalisation of higher education in Sri Lanka
  • To contributes for the cooperation between EU and Sri Lanka

Master programme

The impact of this programme will be on the healthcare students, and when they graduate the effect will be on the patients with neurodegenerative diseases because they will receive the improved provision of care on a regional and national level.  Students will have the opportunity to enroll in the developed program at four sites across Sri Lanka. When they graduate and start working at the hospitals, they will be able to provide a better provision of care for the intended target group

CPD programmes

These will provide knowledge to the healthcare professionals about NDD and how to provide an adequate provision of care for these patients and their families. Also they will provide information about the developed courses about NDD and how to provide an adequate provision of care for these patients and their families that are available at the universities at three levels. When the graduating students start working at the hospitals or other healthcare facilities, the current staff will be informed that there are specific ways in how to work with patients with NDD.

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