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J Interprof Care. 2013 Sep;27(5):432-3. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2013.776023. Epub 2013 May 9.

The assistant medical officer in Sri Lanka: mid-level health worker in decline.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Galle, Sri Lanka.


The history of Assistant Medical Officers (AMOs) in Sri Lanka can be traced back to the 1860s. Their training from the beginning followed an allopathic, 'evidence based' model. AMOs have played a key role in rural and peripheral health care, through staffing of government central dispensaries and maternity homes and may have contributed to Sri Lanka's favorable health outcomes. While there are currently approximately 2000 AMOs, their training course was discontinued in 1995. It was argued that the quality of care provided by the AMOs is substandard relative to that of physicians. The success, rapid expansion and integration of physician assistant programs into the US health care system have recently spurred other countries to introduce similar programs. This paper reviews Sri Lanka's move in the opposite direction, phasing out the AMO profession, without any research into their contributions to access to interprofessional primary health care and positive health outcomes.

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