This blog is about new entrants to the Colombo Medical Faculty of the University of Ceylon (as it was then known) in June 1962. Please address all communications to: firstname.lastname@example.org.You may bookmark this page for easier access later.
Header image: Courtesy Prof. Rohan Jayasekara, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo (2011 - 2014).
The College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka honours Lakshman Abeyagunawardene
started this blog in March 2011, it was primarily meant to be a part of the
build-up towards the 50th Anniversary Reunion that we successfully
concluded earlier this month. Whenever possible, I have also highlighted
noteworthy achievements of our batch colleagues since then. This is what I have
recorded so far.
1.Sanath Lamabadusuriya – SLMA
2.Chirasri Mallawaratchi Jayaweera
Bandara - Dr. P. Sivasubramaniam Memorial Oration 2011.
Kannangara Senanayake – Founder of Educate a Child Trust (EACT).
4.Mahendra Gonsalkorale – Prof. S.R. Kottegoda Memorial
5.Suriyakanthi Karunaratne Amarasekara
and Chirasri Mallawarchchi Jayaweera Bandara – among recipients of SLMA ‘Outstanding Health Professional’ Awards to
mark International Women’s Day 2012.
6.N. D. Amerasekara – Recipient of a special plaque awarded by his old
school Wesley College in September 2012 for his services as Editor of the
school website ˜Double Blue Internationalâ”.
Idroos – Re-elected President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association of North
America, West Coast in March 2012. He was first elected to the post in February
I am now pleased to share the news that I was admitted as
a Fellow of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka at the
Inauguration of its Annual Scientific Sessions on Thursday 20th
September 2012. This is in recognition of services rendered to Public
Accepting the award from the President of the College Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne.
The following Citation was read by Dr. Santhushya Fernando.
Abeyagunawardene was born in Hikkaduwa on October 22nd, 1941 at the
height of the Second World War. He was educated at Ananda College, Colombo, and
passed the University Entrance examination held in December 1960. Having
entered the Science Faculty of the University of Ceylon to follow the 1st
MB course in June 1961 when such course was conducted for the last time, he was
then admitted to the Colombo Medical Faculty the following year in June 1962.
Dr. Abeyagunawardene graduated with the MBBS degree in March 1967. Following
his Internship at the General Hospital, Colombo South, he worked in the
clinical field for two years before opting voluntarily for a career in public
health long before being called up for mandatory service as a Medical Officer
of Health. Starting as an MOH at Matara in 1970, he later joined the Health
Education Bureau (HEB) of the Ministry of Health before leaving for the United
States on a World Health Organization (WHO) Fellowship in March 1974.
He specialised in
public health and health education and obtained the degree of Master of Public
Health (MPH) from the University of California, Berkeley, USA in 1975. On his
return, Dr. Abeyagunawardene continued his service in the HEB as a Health
Education Specialist. In 1986, he was certified as a consultant in community
medicine by the Post Graduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) following conferment
of the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD) in community medicine (by research) by
the University of Colombo.
While serving the
Health Education Bureau of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Abeyagunawardene was in
charge of the Community Health Education sub unit and in later years, the
Training sub unit as well. In that capacity, he directed the highly successful
Family Health Education Action Programme mobilising village level volunteers for
health action throughout the length and breadth of the country. Apart from his
involvement in his own research studies, Dr. Abeyagunawardene has supervised
research projects and dissertations of MD and M SC candidates of the PGIM. Dr.
Abeyagunawardene has the distinction of coordinating the M SC course in Health
Education when the PGIM doors were thrown open to non- medical and non-dental
health professionals. He has also served as a member of the Board of Study in
Community Medicine of the PGIM over an extensive period until he left
government service in 1990.
Having served the
Government of Sri Lanka for 23 years, he opted for early retirement to join the
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1990. As a National Professional
Officer in UNICEF, Colombo, he continued to work closely with his national
counterparts, notably the Health Education Bureau. Apart from other duties, Dr.
Abeyagunawardene was responsible for the planning, implementation and
evaluation of UNICEF-funded mass media programmes to promote oral rehydration
therapy, iodised salt, child immunisation, and breastfeeding under the Baby
Friendly Hospitals Initiative.
Abeyagunawardene has also served the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the
Commonwealth Secretariat of London as a short term consultant with assignments
in Indonesia and Malaysia. In 1998, he retired prematurely from the UN to
emigrate to the United States where he served the South Carolina Department of
Health and Environmental Control as a Health Education Specialist for a further
period of ten years before final retirement in January 2009. The South Carolina
Department of Health and Environmental Control recognised Dr.
Abeyagunawardene’s services when he was presented with the Award for Excellence
in 2006 for his contribution in the state’s highly successful Childhood Lead
Poisoning Prevention Programme.
Abeyagunawardene joined the Sri Lanka Association of Community Medicine as a
life member soon after he opted for a career in Public Health in 1970, and
later served as a Committee Member. With the establishment of the College of
Community Physicians of Sri Lanka, he continued to serve as a Council member
until he left the country in 1997. He has also served as a Council Member of
the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) for several years.
Abeyagunawardene has many publications to his credit and has been a regular
presenter of scientific papers at the annual sessions of the Sri Lanka Medical
Association and the Sri Lanka College of Community Physicians. He won the P.H.
Wilson Peiris Memorial Award at the 99th Anniversary Academic
Sessions of the SLMA in 1986 for his paper entitled “Factors Influencing the
Defaulter Rate of Leprosy Patients in a Hyperendemic Region in Sri Lanka”. A
paper entitled “Mobilising Mass Media for Health” which outlined an evaluation
of the HEB’s very first series of media seminars was published in the
prestigious international health journal “World Health Forum” of the WHO in
1988. Dr. Abeyagunawardene published his Memoirs in 2009 with his book entitled
“From Hikkaduwa to the Carolinas – Memoirs of a Reluctant Expatriate”. Dr.
Abeyagunawardene returned to Sri Lanka on a permanent basis in 2009 and straightaway
involved himself in CCP activities by sharing his US experience in childhood
lead poisoning and prevention with the general membership at the College’s
scientific sessions in 2010. Dr. Abeyagunawardene now lives in Battaramulla
with his wife Mangala. They have a son and daughter and three grandchildren.