Dr. Kithsiri Edirisinghe, the Co-Founder and CEO of the International Institute of Health Sciences (IIHS), Sri Lanka’s pioneering healthcare training provider and role model for the education industry, received international acclaim recently for driving excellence and visionary leadership in education.
The award, an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Health Sciences presented by the Open University of Malaysia (OUM) pays tribute to Dr. Edirisinghe for his foresight in adding value to the healthcare and education profession. The prestigious award is also recognised by the Malaysian government.
IIHS was launched as a novel concept of moving Sri Lanka to export skilled labour, reducing dollar outflows and improving currency inflows. He stated when he began the institute, it had 0% recognition within the sector. Today, the prestigious company is regionally accepted, with growing global acclaim.
“I truly appreciate OUM for recognizing me,” Dr. Edirisinghe said. “Everyone milestone is important, each recognition and landmark is unique in nature. I continuously strive to make sure all achievements are done with quality.”
Throughout his career Dr. Edirisinghe’s milestones are countless. After completing his education at S. Thomas’ College, Mt Lavinia, he became a medical doctor by profession. Dr. Edirisinghe possesses a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from North Colombo Medical College, followed by a Master of Science and a Doctor of Medicine (MD) in Medical Administration from the University of Colombo. He has over 26 years of experience in the health industry and over 15 years of experience in the education industry. Dr. Edirisinghe possesses a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and he is also a Certified Master Trainer, Australia.
His journey in practicing medicine began as a doctor serving rural areas. With little access to scare resources, Dr. Edirisinghe made a difference. “I trained as a medical doctor, a surgeon, I enjoyed working with people. During my first appointment as a MBBS doctor at the Hospital in Mahawalathenna, Balangoda, I worked many shifts alone conducting minor surgeries – there were no nurses, no ambulance or even a telephone.” As a result of his clinical acumen, he was able to transform the infirmary from bare minimum to a thriving rural healthcare hospital.
Unwilling to rest on his laurels, Dr. Edirisinghe, he joined the Ragama Hospital as the Deputy Director, Administration. He progressed as a hospital planner and consultant and realized that he had more value to add to society. He ventured into the private sector and served at a leading hospital as Project Director, contributing through administrative and managerial roles.
He has rendered his services as a project consultant towards many hospitals and healthcare centers in Sri Lanka, including the Northern Central Hospital, Jaffna; Hemas Hospitals, Wattala and Galle, the Kotelawala Defence University Hospital, Special Baby Care Centre for De Zoysa Maternity Hospital, etc. He says, “I am very fortunate that everywhere I went I got a chance to practice what I learned.”
Using his wealth of experience, Dr. Edirisinghe also currently teaches at the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine imparting knowledge to undergraduate doctors and graduates in healthcare and management.
Dr. Edirisinghe firmly believes that his greatest achievement is “Being able to create a model to include everyone in education.” In recognition as an international educator and entrepreneur, Dr. Edirisinghe was awarded the Asian Grid Entrepreneur 2009 award.
Of IIHS’s success, Dr. Edirisinghe said, “when I began IIHS, only the Open University and IIHS were offering healthcare degrees. Now there are 17 players’ and we are very happy with the growth of the industry. Previously, in the private sector, no one wanted to be a nurse. We commenced IIHS with over 20 students. Today we have grown to 3000 students. Society recognises that IIHS is affordable for students and some courses are even offered at 1/15 of the total cost when compared to overseas fees. Our vision remains of transforming people to benefit the community and the landscape, mainly through innovation.”
Importantly, Dr. Edirisinghe is now living his dream by establishing a global education hub in South Asia named ‘IIHS Multiversity’ for South East Asian students and healthcare professionals.