Ambassador Julie J. Chung’s Remarks at IIHS New Multiversity Campus

September 7, 2023

State Minister of Education Dr. Suren Raghavan Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe, distinguished guests and friends, what an honor it is to be here today to announce that the United States, through the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), is partnering with IIHS to expand its healthcare education capacity.  As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of bilateral relations between the United States and Sri Lanka, it is a compelling testament to our cooperation that we are helping aspiring Sri Lankan nurses and medical staff achieve their dreams. And not only Sri Lankans, but as a potential hub for South Asia, students across the region.

This building represents one of the latest examples in our long history of partnership that include assistance in nutrition, health, education, human rights and government, and environment protection.  With financial support from the DFC, IIHS constructed this green-friendly “Multiversity.”  Let me congratulate IIHS on this gorgeous building – I can’t wait to walk around to visit your lecture rooms, student halls, library, as well as the research lab.  I hear this eight-story building helped expand the student body size from 2700 to an impressive 4400!  And not only that, but the building will also support the institute’s expanding curriculum which now includes a diversity of areas such as nursing, physiotherapy, bio-medical services, and health administration.  Let me also commend the thought and care that the IIHS team put into preserving the local environment.  Following a biodiversity survey of this area, the institute modified its building plans to help preserve the local flora and fauna.  Meanwhile, the institute will use some of the DFC funding to support the rejuvenation of the surrounding wetlands.  I am glad to know that we as the United States can be a part your efforts to expand healthcare education opportunities for Sri Lankans while also caring for the local environment.

Healthcare workers carry a great responsibility – to care for others.  And the weight of this responsibility can feel especially heavy when facing a crisis, as Sri Lanka did last year.  Amidst the power outages, food shortages, and mass protests, there was also the hospital staff, working late into the night caring for patients and doing the best they could to manage with medical supplies running low.  There were the paramedics and ambulance drivers, many of whom continued to carry the injured and the sick to hospitals even as they themselves faced threats and fuel ran low.  I continue to hear stories of healthcare professionals in Sri Lanka facing challenges today.  At the same time, I also continue to hear stories of healthcare professionals, the heroes, who carry on with quiet dedication, caring for their communities one day at a time.  Wherever your careers take you, I hope you remember that, as they say in the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath, “there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.”  In many ways, this partnership and funding represent our hope to empower those who have this great responsibility to care for others.  There is so much we can accomplish when we bring together the expertise, financing, and experience of those in the United States together with Sri Lanka.

Our two countries share a long and rich history of bilateral relations, rooted in the principles of People, Progress, and Partnership.  Over the span of more than seven decades, we have worked together on issues ranging from economic development to national security and have nurtured our strong bonds of friendship and mutual respect.  We remained a steadfast partner for Sri Lanka throughout the unprecedented crisis, a testament to our unwavering support.  We remain committed to collaboration with Sri Lanka, and you all serve as an inspirational example of what we can achieve together in partnership.

To the students in the audience – you have a bright future ahead of you.  If I end up visiting a clinic or hospital where you work, please say hi!  Thank you again to everyone for this opportunity to visit your campus and best of luck to the new generation of students embarking on their educational journey at Multiversity, poised to shape a brighter tomorrow!