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Friday, September 28, 2012

The College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka honours Lakshman Abeyagunawardene

When I 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 President 2011.

2.      Chirasri Mallawaratchi Jayaweera Bandara - Dr. P. Sivasubramaniam Memorial Oration 2011.

3.      Pramilla Kannangara Senanayake – Founder of Educate a Child Trust (EACT).

4.      Mahendra Gonsalkorale – Prof. S.R. Kottegoda Memorial Oration 2011.

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”.
7.      Lareef 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 2010.

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 Health/Community Medicine.
Accepting the award from the President of the College Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne. 
The following Citation was read by Dr. Santhushya Fernando.

Dr. Lakshman 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.
Dr. 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.
Dr. 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.
Dr. 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.




  1. Please accept my sincere congratulations Lucky. I am sure we are all proud of you. Pity I can't attend your celebratory party but I shall be there in spirit (although I can't imbibe the spirits which no doubt would be flowing!)

  2. Well done, Lucky! And well deserved! I am truly proud of you. I am even more convinced that our batch consisted of so many truly outstanding members that it must be unique in the history of our Medical School.
    Enjoy the celebration. I hope many other students follow your example.
    You may see more on the subject from me!
    Zita S

  3. Colombo airport has a single terminal which has undergone many upgrades over the years. 20 years ago passengers would exit their flights to board buses to the terminal through best essay help. Now however we can delay that feeling until we get through to the baggage claim area.