History of the Jaffna Teaching Hospital

The Friend in Need Society Hospital at Jaffna was established by Ackland Dyke, the Government Agent, Northern Province, with the assistance of Dr. Green and in collaboration with the Friend-in-Need Society of Jaffna. This hospital has grown into what is now the Teaching Hospital Jaffna. From 1850-1907, the medical staff of the Friend-in-Need Society Hospital was drawn almost totally from the graduates of Dr. Green’s Medical School.

Dr. Samuel Green was a surgical giant of his days and was the first Visiting Surgeon of the Friend-in-Need Society Hospital. The Friend-in-Need Society Hospital was administered by the Friend-in-Need Society of Jaffna. It was run by volunteers. In 1907 it came under Civil Medical Department of the Government. The Civil Medical Department was the successor of the Military Medical Department of the Nineteenth Century. The hospital was renamed the Jaffna Civil Hospital in 1907.

Three qualified surgeons worked at the Jaffna Civil Hospital from the mid1920s to early 1930s. They were Dr. I. T. Kunaratnam, F.R.C.S, Dr. A.H.C.de Silva, F.R.C.S and Dr. Milroy Paul, F.R.C.S. The total bed strength of the hospital was 200 (including a bed ward for private patients – the Thirunavukarasu Memorial Ward). The total medical staff consisted of 4 doctors in the capacity of Physician, Surgeon and Eye Surgeon and one Houseman. Dr. Milroy Paul on his arrival got an experienced Theatre Sister appointed, got down a high pressure sterilizer from Colombo, trained a Theatre Attendant and did casualty operations even at night under Petromax and torch light. Dr.Paul records in 1931, post-operative sepsis was uncommon in elective surgery which he felt was due to lack of overcrowding, the total lack of visitors except during prescribed hours, the strict observance of asepsis and mostly to the excellent nursing in both the Theatre and the Ward.

Rapid expansion and development commenced in the 1950s in the government sector of the Health Services of Jaffna. With the appointment of specialists to the basic and sub-specialties, Jaffna Civil Hospital became a General Hospital. In the 1960s, Jaffna General Hospital was a recognized centre for postgraduate training of doctors for the Final Examinations of the Royal College of England.

The increased health needs and demands brought about in the Jaffna General Hospital extensions and constructions of new buildings without a comprehensive long-term plan resulting in a clumsy, overcrowded hospital. The batch of medical students moved into Jaffna Hospital for the clinical and para-clinical studies in June 1980. As a consequence of the establishment of Jaffna Medical School, Jaffna Hospital became elevated to the status of a Teaching Hospital.

Present History and Statistics of Teaching Hospital Jaffna.
The Jaffna district is located in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka; it is 410 km away from the Colombo. The district consists of 15 Divisional Secretariat divisions with estimated population of about 610,000. The Jaffna district had been neglected & totally cut off from other parts of Sri Lanka by A-9 road due to the armed conflict. During the past 30 years, the hospital had been shifted 2 times to other places.

In Jaffna there are 42 curative institutions, which provide the primary & secondary care service under the provincial administration. The tertiary care services are provided by the Teaching Hospital, Jaffna, which is the only tertiary hospital in the Northern Province and it is under the administration of Central Ministry of Health, Nutrition & Indigenous Medicine.

Although, it is the tertiary care provider for the whole Northern Province, it has shortcomings of human resources, infrastructure & transport facilities. Teaching Hospital, Jaffna has the bed strength of 1350, with specialized care units, MICU, CCU, SICU, NICU ICU, Orthopaedic, Nephrology, Neurology, Neurosurgery, OMF, Orthodontic, Restorative Dentistry, Cardiothoracic Surgery, etc. More than 2000 dedicated staff members are working 24 hours in 3 shifts. Of this staff 140 are consultants in various fields including medical faculty consultants. There are 327 Medical Officers, 661 Nursing Officers, 124 PSM Staff, 68 Para Medical Staff, 113 Attendants, 500 Health Assistants and 78 Office Staff, etc.

The hospital treats nearly 5000 patients a day of these 1000 are Outdoor Patients, 1200 are In-patients and 2500 get treatment in various clinics. Majority of the critical ill patients are transferred here from the other districts for specialized care. Hence there is a necessity to improve the hospital in each & every aspects.

The first open heart surgery at Teaching hospital Jaffna

A Thoracic surgery section had functioned at the Teaching Hospital Jaffna till 30 years ago. A team under the leadership of Dr. A.T.S.Paul, had performed thoracic surgeries at Teaching Hospital Jaffna, during the period 1969 – 1970. Later, eminent Consultant Thoracic Surgeons like Dr. Stephan, Dr.R.Natkunam and Mr. Rudra Rajaretnam, had worked at Teaching Hospital Jaffna, up to 1984. During this period, cardio thoracic surgeries including minor heart surgeries like CMV – Closed Mitral Valvotomy, PDA Ligation, ASD Closure etc. were performed. However, modern facilities for performing the surgery by suspending the beating of the heart, were not available.

Open heart surgeries for two patients by making use of cardio pulmonary bypass machine with latest technology have been successfully performed on 20th and 21st December 2017 for the first time, at Teaching Hospital Jaffna. This was done by a team led by Dr.M.S.Muhunthan, Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon. This is an important milestone in the growth of the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. It is a matter for pride that the Jaffna Teaching Hospital is now one of only 4 government hospitals where open heart surgery is being performed in Sri Lanka.

We opened a Museum of the Hospital in 2018. It is a hundred years old – the oldest building in the hospital. It is running as a global medical education Centre. There are two major units functioning at the Museum, such as Jaffna Medical Museum and Telemedicine Unit.

This year (2023) we started Kidney transplant from live donors.