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ISSN 1800 4016

Outstanding Health Professional Awards 2012 Recognising the outstanding contribution to uplift the medical profession and improve healthcare in Sri Lanka by Lady Doctors to mark the

International Women's Day 2012 - 8 March 2012 For the first time in its 125-year history, the Sri Lanka Medical Association honoured lady doctors, who have made an enormous contribution uplift the medical profession and improve healthcare in Sri Lanka, at a

simple ceremony held at the Lionel Memorial Auditorium at the Wijerama House on 8 March 2012, the International Women’s Day. The Chief Guest at the ceremony was Prof. Lalitha Mendis.

The award recipients posed for a group photo after the event. Standing from Left to Right: Dr. U. Weerasinghe [President, College of Radiologists (95/96)], Dr. Nalini Withana [President, College of Microbiologists (99/00)], Dr. C. D. Jayaweera Bandara [President, College of Ophthalmologists (99/00)], Dr. Premini Amerasinghe [President, College of Radiologists (86/87)], Prof. Anoja Fernando [President, SLMA (2001)], Dr. Suriyakanthie Amarasekara [President, SLMA (2006)], Prof. Gita Fernando [President, SLMA (2007)]. Seated from left to right: Dr. Malani De Silva [President, College of Community Physicians (98/99)], Dr. Maya Atapattu [President, College of Medical Administrators (99)], Dr. Selvi Perera [President, College of Physicians (92)], Prof. Lalitha Mendis [President, College of Microbiologists (87/88), SLMA (2008)], Prof. Priyani Soysa (President, Paediatric Association (73/74), SLMA (89), College of Physicians (92)], Prof. Vajira H. W. Dissanayake (President, SLMA) Prof. Dulitha Fernando [President, College of Community Physicians (95/97)]. Absent: Prof. Leela De A. Karunarathne [President, College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka (89/91)], and Dr. Stella De Silva [President, SLMA (81/82)].

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SLMANEWS Felicitation of Prof. Priyani E Soysa There was a special felicitation for Prof. Priyani E Soysa at the Outstanding Health Professional Awards 2012. Prof. Soysa's achievement are too numerous to mention here. Among them, are two achievements, which probably set the stage for many women who followed her to aim for greater heights. She became the first woman to obtain a MD Ceylon when she obtained it in 1950 and she became the first woman Professor of a University Department in any discipline (medical and non medical) in Sri Lankan when she was appointed to the Chair in the Department of Paediatrics of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo in 1966.

Launch of the book titled "Review of Research Evidence on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Sri Lanka" The launch of the second edition of the book titled "Review of Research Evidence on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Sri Lanka" compiled by the women's health committee of the Sri Lanka Medical Association took place at the Outstanding Health Professial Awards Ceremony on 8 March 2012. The first copy of the book was presented to Dr. Firdosi Rustom Mehta, World Health Organisations Representative in Sri Lanka by Prof. Jennifer Perera, Chairperson, Women's Health Committee of the SLMA.

Join the SLMA The SLMA is the Association for All Doctors in Sri Lanka SLMA Life Membership fee of Rs. 10,000/- can now be paid in 10 monthly installements of Rs. 1,000/-, and can be deducted from the Salary if you are employed by the Ministry of Health. Visit for membership information and to download membership application forms.


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SLMANEWS Address by Prof. Lalitha Mendis, Chief Guest, at the Outstanding Health Professional Awards, 2012 Prof Vajira Dissanayake Dr Mehta Awardees and their families Council of the SLMA Invited guests Ladies and Gentleman I chose as my topic today - TO BE BORN A WOMEN. As the Song in Sound of Music goes, A VERY GOOD PLACE TO START IS THE VERY BEGINNING. The creation of woman. In many cultures and religions there are mythological stories of how men and women were created. I will present the story in the book of Genesis of the Holy Bible. According to the book of genesis in the Bible, [Chapter 1 Vs 26 (extract)] Then God said, let us make man in our image. [Chapter 2 vs 4 (extract)] The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and Breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. [vs 18 (extract)] God said It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him. [vs 21 (extract)] The Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, and when he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. [vs 22 (extract)] Then the Lord God made a women from the rib he had taken from the man and bought her to the man. [Vs 23] The man said. This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.

Women in China were held in equal low esteem. An ancient Chinese poem begins "How sad it is to be a woman!! / Nothing on earth is held so cheap." In her novel, The Good Earth, Pearl Buck touches on this hopelessness. There was a long-held Chinese tradition of favoring male children that still holds true today—often with tragic consequences. Women in the Western world began to publicly question inequality as early as the 14th century. One of the most famous Western women is Joan of Arc, a French peasant turned military leader. Another influential female figure in Europe was Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th Century. Elizabeth's 45 year reign has been viewed as a milestone in women's history.

Women in Ancient Civilizations. Women’s rights and societal roles have varied throughout history and within different cultures. For example, the women of ancient Egypt apparently possessed approximately the same economic and legal rights as men. Women could own and manage property, and could conduct their own legal matters. They often functioned as leaders. Queen Nefertiti was one famous Egyption Queen. There were others.

The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. From equal status with men in ancient times through the low points of the medieval period, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful. In modern India, women have adorned high office. Outstanding among them Srimathi Indira Gandhi elected first women Prime Minister of India in 1966 and Srimathi Pratiba Patel the first and current women President of India.

It was a different story in ancient Greece. Greek goddesses held significant power, but their mortal female worshippers played a more retiring role, and were, on the whole, not well regarded by men. Their situation was summed up by a person called Semonides, who claimed, that "The woman like mud is ignorant of everything, both good and bad; her only accomplishment is eating".

To examine the situation of women in Sri Lanka, let me take you back to the 18th century when Robert Knox was a prisoner on our Island. In his book A HISTORICAL RELATIONS OF CEYLON he says “The natives of Ceylon are more continent with respect to women than other Asiatic nations and their women are treated with more attention. A Ceylonese women almost never experiences the


SLMANEWS treatment of a slave, but is looked upon as a wife and companion.” Around the same time in the UK, i.e. in the 18th century, a woman called Mary Wollstonecraft published a book in which she argued that women do not exist merely to please men, and proposed that they should have the same opportunities as men in education, work and politics. This period in the West was perhaps the dawn of new thinking in the West. 19th and 20th Century Ceylon Formal education for Ceylonese females began in the first half of the 19th century mostly by missionaries who established schools for females. Most of these females belonged to the elite classes of society. This formal education for Sri Lankan women began only about 30-50 years after Mary Wollstonecraft’s landmark publication. After the end of the 19th century, Sri Lankan women began to enter the professions of teaching, medicine and law. Let us look at a few who blazed the trail. Ms Weerasekara was admitted to the Ceylon Medical College in 1882, 12 years after it was established in 1870. Although the Ceylon Law College was opened in 1878, women were admitted to the Bar, only after the passing of the sex discrimination Act of 1933. The first female Engineering student, Ms Premila Sivaprakasapllai was a contemporary of mine in the 1960s. Women students entered for higher education in Arts and Science from the very inception of the University College in 1921. In the latter half of the 20th Century, Sri Lankan history saw two outstanding women. Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the world’s first woman Prime Minister, and later Chairman of the Non Aligned Movement and her daughter Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumatunge, the first women President of Sri Lanka. Equal Opportunities for Sri Lankan women Several developments in Sri Lanka in the 20th Century contributed towards equal opportunities in education being made available to women. The granting of universal franchise in 1931 was an acknowledgement of the equal status of women. Free education was introduced in 1945 and hundreds of coeducational secondary schools- Maha Vidyalayas were set up where girls and boys learned and competed side by side. Until that time there


were vernacular schools in rural areas where the medium of instruction was Sinhalese or Tamil and fee levying English schools in urban areas. The objectives of free education were realized more completely after the official languages act of 1956. Enabling university education in Sinhala and Tamil. From 1959, many more rural students streamed into Universities but more to the Faculties of Social Science and Humanities than Faculties of Science, Medicine and Dentistry. In the 70s a quota system according to administrative districts was introduced for university admissions, a modification of which still prevails. Through this system more students from rural areas gained entry to the more privileged faculties of Science, Medicine, Dentistry, Agriculture and Engineering. At present about 50% of University admissions to most Faculties comprise women. The University of Colombo takes pride in having appointed the first woman Professor in the University system - Professor Priyani Soysa as Professor of Paediatrics in 1966. Also the first women Dean in the system - Professor Daphne Attygalle in 1982 and the first women Vice Chancellor – Professor Savithri Gunasekara in 1999. Literacy rates Sri Lanka has a commendable record of female literacy. In the early 20th century female literacy rose from 8.5% in 1901 to 21.2 in 1921. By 1953 after the introduction of free education it rose to about 53%. In 2008, the literacy rate of female youth was 98.59% having a slight edge over the literacy rate of male youth which was 97.33%. These high female literacy rates have complemented the efforts of the Health sector, and contributed in an unmeasured way to the success of the immunisation programme, family planning programmes, and the lowering of maternal mortality, infant mortality and under five year child mortality. We expect that non communicable disease prevention programmes will meet with success for the same reason and that in the current milieu of the struggle to meet ends meet, women can be educated on feeding their families with low cost but nutritionally acceptable food. Sri Lankan women are currently engaged in a variety of jobs ranging from house maids,

SLMANEWS domestic helps, garment factory workers, clerical grades, and have distinguished themselves as university academics, medical practitioners, engineers, architects, educationists, administrators (in the fields of Finance and Banking, Science and Technology), entrepreneurs, sportswomen, writers and in the creative and performing arts. Despite Sri Lanka producing the first ever woman Prime Minister, there are relatively few women in politics. Perhaps this hesitation is because Politics is still viewed as a dirty game and Sri Lankan elections akin to a blood sport. Let us look at some of the problems that women of the 21st century face. Domestic violence – prevalent in all social strata in Sri Lanka. Gender based violence and sexual harassment – we look forward to reading the SLMA publication that is being launched today. Honour killings, Child marriages, and Dowry killings – fortunately Sri Lankan society is free of these. Refugee status – thousands of Sri Lankan women suffered this curse. Victims of marriages with husbands who are addicted to alcoholics and substance abuse. This situation is widely prevalent throughout our country. At the early part of the 21st Century, one of the foremost challenges that our women face is how best to cope with the change from the single role homemaker to a new dual or triple role of supplementary bread winner and professional. As the old doggerel goes: A man works from sun to sun But a women’s work is never done.

Whatever the new roles that women have taken, there is one that I feel women should never forfeit and one in which they are virtually irreplaceable – the role of a wife and mother, loving, patient, wise and slow to anger. She cherishes, sustains and hold together her family together. Many still perform this one role and go unrecognized and unsung. I think someone should give an award to the most devoted and creative housewife. The award winners today have no doubt overcome many barriers and skillfully managed their husbands, and families, worked hard and forged ahead creatively. To be your own person, to do your own thing is wonderfully fulfilling and more and more women are enjoying this joyous experience. To me, a marriage partnership which permits self realization of both husband and wife is the greatest gift to a modern women juggling her many roles and is captured most eloquently by one of my favourite poets – Kahlil Gibran. “Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping For only the hand of life can contain them And stand together, but not too near together For the pillars of the temple stand apart And the oak tree and the Cyprus grow not in each other’s shadow On this day I salute the women of this world who have achieved and through those achievements, touched the lives of others, I also salute the millions of women who go unfeted and unsung who grapple with war situations, strife, widowhood, suppression, refugee status, and numerous other life’s problems strong in their belief that there will for them be a better tomorrow.


Dr. Pramilla Senanayake, Vice President SLMA, proposing the Vote of Thanks, at the conclusion of the awards ceremony,


SLMANEWS SLMA President at the Sunday Times Business Club The Sunday Times Business Club is one of the most prestigious gatherings of business leaders and executives in Sri Lanka. Their monthly meeting on 28 February 2012 at the Taj Samudra was a panel discussion on "Private Channeled Practice". The panelists were Dr. Palitha Maheepala, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health; Prof. Vajira H. W. Dissanayake, President, SLMA; and Ms. Kumdini Hettiarachchi, Deputy Editor, Sunday Times. The proceedings of this panel discussion and the follow up to it was exclusively reported in two issues of the Business Times Section of the Sunday Times on 4 March 2012 and 11 March 2012.

Picture curtsey of the Sunday Times.


SLMANEWS The SLMA Southern Regional Conference 2012 The Governor off the Southern Province arriving for the Inauguration

Presentation of SLMA Research Grant 2011

Panel on Health Challenges in the South

The Minister of Health arriving for the concluding session with Health Ministry Officials

Health Officials from the South

Address by the Minister of Health


SLMANEWS The SLMA Southern Regional Conference 2012

Speech by Hon. Kumari Balasuriya, Southern Province Governor Professor Vajira H W Dissanayake, the President of Sri Lanka Medical Association, Secretary of SLMA Dr Lasantha Malavige, Dr Vajira Lekhamwasam, the President of Galle Medical Association, other distinguished professionals, ladies and gentlemen. I am much pleased and honoured to address this dignified gathering of medical professionals, guests and invitees. First and foremost let me warmly and heartily congratulate all officials and members of Sri Lanka Medical Association on this gracious occasion, their 125th anniversary. SLMA is the leading organization of medical professionals in Sri Lanka. Being the oldest professional medical association in Asia and Australasia as well, it has commendably been able to bring together medical practitioners of all grades and all branches of medicine under one umbrella. It has a proud history dating from 1887. I gratefully hail the efforts of the officials of the association in providing an effective forum for its members to further their professional and academic horizons. We all know that medicine is the science and art of healing which combines various health care practices to maintain and restore health by prevention and treatment of illnesses in human beings. So the profession of medicine is a supreme human mission with a divine vision. I do not feel it is necessary to talk much about medicine before a much educated, trained, experienced and reputed professionals of medicine as gathered here on this prestigious occasion. However I highly appreciate the SLMA’s apt planning of a creative and productive dialogue on medical professionalism which is indeed very much essential and salutary to its members and in wide sense to the entire society. I believe that conferences of this nature are immensely profitable for the medical practitioners for improvement of the quality of clinical practice and to update this knowledge. It is a well-known and widely acknowledged fact that the doctor-patient relationship contributes greatly towards ensuring a quality clinical practice. I understand that the SLMA is very


much concerned about this vital aspect of medicine. Moreover this valued effort of the Association also deserves our praise and honour as it provides a good opportunity to the membership to improve their professional competence by sharing each other’s newly accumulated experience, knowledge and expertise through productive dialogue. Most outstandingly among the many competencies required by a medical practitioner is his/her ability to maintain and demonstrate virtuous professionalism. I hope this conference would assist and guide the participants to improve their professional behaviour. I understand that there are a number of valued lectures on Health Challenges in the South by highly professional and expert specialists in the field which would be immensely beneficial to the participants. I would like to make use of this opportunity to appreciate and congratulate the commendable contribution of the Southern Provincial Health Department towards the advancement of health in compliance to our National Health Policy. Moreover I would like to emphatically felicitate the devoted, dedicated and the utmost sacrificial services rendered by doctors and the related medical staffs of Rural Hospitals and Primary Medical Centers in remote areas of the Sothern Province. As the Governor of the province I have visited most of the rural hospitals in the South. I with much honour and high esteem hail the doctors who amidst numerous personal hardships and practical impediments, serve our innocent rural community. I have observed that rural hospitals are much ahead of many urban hospitals in cleanliness, neatness and sanitation and maintaining health care services. I very sincerely request all health officials of the provincial ministry and the department to be more concerned about the needs and facilities of those much deserving doctors and medical staffs. Specially we need the support of the central government. I believe that the medical profession and the profession of teaching are not mere vocations connected to medical care, treatment and medication and dissimilation of knowledge

SLMANEWS respectively. Both are noble professionals with undying bonds to supreme humanity. Dear ladies and gentlemen, I do not wish to offend any organization or individual but let me draw your sincere attention to one offensive social attribute leveled against the noble profession. On certain occasions it is alleged that some doctors and medical practitioners lack the expected degree professionalism in the fulfillment of duties and obligations and adherence to the noble ethics of the profession. So dear professionals. Before the conclusion of my address I do wish to make an earnest

solicitation from you all to be very observant over the fundamental principles of professionalism which includes primacy of patient welfare, patient’s autonomy and social justice which are essential ingredients of professional responsibility on order to avert any accusations. I would like to once again offer my warm and sincere greetings to the entire membership led by the prominent officials of the Sri Lanka Medical Association on this extraordinary occasion of its 125th Anniversary. May SLMA prosper forever serving the membership in their professional and academic development and in general to the entire nation!





Prof. Jennifer Perera MBBS(Col), MD Microbiology (Col), DipWomen’s tudies (Col), DipMedEd(Dundee) Senior Professor & Head of Department Department of Microbiology Faculty of Medicine University of Colombo

Dr. Ranjith Perera BVSc(Cey), Dip.Med. Microbiology(C'bo), M.Phil.(C'bo) Senior Lecturer & Head of the Department of Micribiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya

DISABILITIES Dr. Lalith Wijeyaratne


Consultant Rheumatologist National Hospital of Sri Lanka

Dr. Harsha Gunasekara MBBS, MD, FRCP Consultant Neurologist Sri Jayawardenepura General Hospital


Prof. Anoja Fernando MBBS, BA, FRCP Emeritus Professor of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna. Chairperson, Bioethics subcommittee, National Committee for Ethics of Science & Technology President, Asian Bioethics Association


Dr. Chandanie Wanigatunge MBBBS (NCMC) MD(Col) FCCP Consultant Physician & Clinical Pharmacologist Senior Lecturer & Head Department of Pharmacology Faculty of Medical Sciences University of Sri Jayewardenepura






Dr. Malik Fernando MB, ChB (Bristol) Retired Medical Practitioners

Prof. Anuja Abeydeera MBBS (Colombo), MD Anaesthesiology (Colombo), FRCA(London), SEDA(UK) Professor in Anaesthesiology, Department of Surgery, University of Colombo

HEALTH EQUITY Prof. Saroj Jayasinghe MBBS, MD, FRCP, FCCP, MD (Bristol) Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo

Dr. Vathsala Jayasuriya MBBS, MSc(Col), MD (Community Medicine) (Col) Senior Lecture, Department of Community Medicine Faculty of Medical Sciences University of Sri Jayawardenepura







Dr. Lucian Jayasuriya MBBS (Cey.), DTPH (Lond.), Hony. Senior Fellow of the PGIM (Col.) Medical Director, GlaxoSmithKline

Dr. Ruvaiz Haniffa MBBS, MSc Lecturer in Family Medicine, Family Medicine Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo

HERBAL MEDICINE Prof. S. P. Lamabadusuriya MBBS, PhD, DSc, MBE Emeritus Professor in Paediatrics University of Colombo

Dr. B. Kumarendran MBBS, MSc Lecturer, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya

MEDICINAL DRUGS Prof. Gita Fernando MBBS, MRCP 9UK), FRCP (Lond), FCCP Founder Professor of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medical Sciences University of Sri Jayewardenepura


Dr. Chandanie Wanigatunge MBBBS (NCMC) MD(Col) FCCP Consultant Physician & Clinical Pharmacologist Senior Lecturer & Head Department of Pharmacology Faculty of Medical Sciences University of Sri Jayewardenepura

SLMANEWS MEDICAL EDUCATION Chairperson Dr. Narada Warnasuriya

MBBS, FRCP ,DCH Former Vice Chancellor and Professor of Paediatrics Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayawardenepura

Secretary Dr. Indika Karunathilake MBBS, DMedEd, MMEdEd Senior Lecturer in Medical Education and Director, Medical Education Development & Research Centre (MEDARC) Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo


Prof. Chandrika Wijeyaratne MBBS,MD(Med.)DM,FRCP,FCCP Professor in Reproductive Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo


Dr. Charukshi Arambepola MBBS, MSc, MD Senior Lecturer in Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo


Prof. A.H. Sheriffdeen FRCS, FRCSE Emeritus Professor of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo


Dr. Asela Anthony MBBS, MRCGP(Int.), DFM, DOH&S, DAvM, PG Trainee MD FM University of Sri Jayawardenepura

RESEARCH PROMOTION Chairperson Prof. M.I.M. Ismail MBBS(Cey), DTM&H (Cey), MD (Col), PhD (McGill), FNASSL Emeritus Professor of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo

Secretary Dr. B. Kumarendran

MBBS, MSc Lecturer, Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya

SNAKE BITE Chairperson

Prof. S. A. M. Kularathne MBBS, MD, MRCP(UK), FRCP(London), FCCP(SL) Professor in Medicine Department of Medicine, University of Peradeniya


Dr. Malik Fernando MB, ChB (Bristol) Retired Medical Practitioners



Prof. Colvin Goonaratna FRCP(Lond), FRCP (EDIN), PhD (Dundee), FCCP (S.L), Hon FCGP (S.L), Hon FCS FNASSL Emeritus Professor of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo


Dr. Udaya Ranawaka MBBS(NCMC), MD(C'bo), MRCP(UK) Senior Lecturer, Department of Medicine Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya


Secretary Dr. Manoj Fernando MBBS Lecturer Department of Health Promotion, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, Mihintale

Chairperson Dr. Vathsala Jayasuriya

Secretary Dr. P. Prathapan MBBS (SL), MSc (Col) Lecturer (Probationary) Department of Community Medicine Faculty of Medical Sciences University of Sri Jayawardenepura

Dr. Narada Warnasuriya MBBS, FRCP ,DCH Former Vice Chancellor and Professor of Paediatrics Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayawardenepura


MBBS, MSc(Col), MD (Community Medicine) (Col) Lecture, Department of Community Medicine Faculty of Medical Sciences University of Sri Jayawardenepura

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