Linked Practitioner Perspective: Sri Lanka’s Experience Mobilizing the Military Medical Services for COVID-19 Response

The Ministry of Health (MoH) and Military Medical Services in Sri Lanka worked side-by-side to ensure health workers were able to continue providing routine immunisation and other primary health care services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We recently sat down with Col. Dr. Saveen Semage, former Deputy Director, Sri Lanka Army Preventive Medical Services and Consultant Community Physician, Sri Lanka Army Medical Services to hear about the country’s experiences with its blended civil-military response to the pandemic.


Governments around the world have relied on an arsenal of strategies to combat the COVID-19 virus, while simultaneously trying to meet the demands of routine immunisation activities. One such strategy used in many regions to support national health systems was the deployment of emergency responders, military, and other security personnel. These groups can play a crucial role in strengthening emergency response capacity, as evidenced by their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Engaging the military to fill gaps when health systems are overwhelmed depends on a country’s military history, in addition to the strength and preparedness of its civilian health system.


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