History of the College of Medical Administrators of Sri Lanka

The field of Medical Administration in Sri Lanka has significant milestones in its proud history. One such remarkable event in Medical Administration was the formation of the Association of Medical Administrators (AMA) in 1974 with the intention of looking after the common interests of government Medical Administrators including their professional development. Its Founder President was late Dr. Kulasiri de Silva and the Founder Secretary was Dr. Lucian Jayasuriya. In 1992, when late Dr. Bernard Randeniya was the President of the AMA the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) protested against the existence of another association to look after trade union matters of doctors.

At that point, some of the senior Medical Administrators including Dr. George Fernando, late Dr. Bernard Randeniya, Dr. Reggie Perera, late Dr. Lalith Mendis, Dr. Sanath Goonesekera, Dr. Shanti Dalpatadu and few others decided to establish a professional College for Medical Administrators in 1992, which was named as the College of Medical Administrators of Sri Lanka (CMASL). The members of the AMA joined the CMASL which became the professional body for Medical Administrators which encourages and develops the capacity of members who are involved in the management of the healthcare system and healthcare institutions in Sri Lanka. The prime objectives of establishing this professional body were,

1. To guide the health development in Sri Lanka;
2. To assist in the implementation of the national health policy;
3. To promote postgraduate studies in the field of Medical Administration;
4. To undertake health systems research;
5. To promote and foster professional advancement of Medical Administration;
6. To regularly review the status of Medical Administration in the country and analyze problems in the field to guide the Ministry of Health (and the private sector) inclusive of human resource development and resource mobilization;
7. To foster fellowship among the professionals engaged in the field of Medical Administration; and
8. To publish a journal of Medical Administration.

The Blue and Gold were chosen as the theme colours of the CMASL. The logo of the CMASL was designed in such a way to symbolize the leadership in healthcare with the ‘Crown’ on the top and health and well-being of people with the ‘snake wrapping around a sword’ in the middle.

A group of 46 Medical Administrators who were initially the members of the AMA became founder members of the CMASL. The first General Meeting of the Council was held on 12th December 1992, where following were elected to be the office bearers and council members of the first Council.

President: Dr. George Fernando
President Elect: Dr. Reggie Perera
Vice President: Dr. Susantha de Silva
Secretary: Dr. K.C.S. Dalpatadu
Treasurer: Dr. Punsiri Fernando
Editor: Dr. Lalith Mendis

Council Members: Dr. P. Sivaraja, Dr. Nihal Jayathilake, Dr. D.A.K. Gunesekera, Dr. H.M. Fernando, Dr. B.F.S. Samaranayake.

Since then, the CMASL was led by 27 Presidents and their Councils. The founder President, Dr. George Fernando is honoured as the ‘Patron of the CMASL’ at present.

Dr. George Fernando
The 1st President & the Patron of the CMASL
Dr. K.C.S. Dalpatadu
The 1st Secretary to the CMASL

During the time of inception of the CMASL, there were only a very few professional bodies for Medical Administrators in the world such as the Colleges of Medical Administrators in Hong Kong and Europe, but except for the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators, they were not associated with conducting postgraduate courses in Medical Administration. However, the CMASL had a prime objective to promote postgraduate studies in Medical Administration. The CMASL spearheaded establishment of a separate specialty in Medical Administration in Sri Lanka by introducing postgraduate courses of Master’s and Doctoral degrees in collaboration with the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) of the University of Colombo.  In order to accomplish this goal, the CMASL initiated action for establishment of a separate Board of Study in Medical Administration at PGIM in 1992. In April 1994, the first Board of Study meeting was held under the chairmanship of Dr. Reggie Perera, while Dr. Shanti Dalpatadu was its first Secretary

Dr. Reggie Perera
The 1st Chairman of the Board of Study in Medical Administration

A training need assessment in Medical Administration was carried out by the CMASL with the assistance of late Prof. T.J. Ramiah, a WHO Consultant working with the Management, Development & Planning Unit of the Ministry of Health and a group of senior Medical Administrators developed curricula of Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Medicine (MD) degrees in Medical Administration. In 1995, the first batch of 31 postgraduate trainees was recruited to commence the MSc in Medical Administration course. Dr. Tilak Munasinghe, former Director of the Health Education Bureau coordinated and guided the pioneering course. Sixteen trainees successfully completed the training in 1996. Since then altogether 20 MSc courses have been completed up to 2021 and a total of 356 trainees have successfully completed the training and has been awarded the Master's degree in Medical Administration. In year 2002, the first MD course in Medical Administration commenced. Up to the end of 2021, 11 programmes of MD had been conducted. The total number of trainees who have completed MD training upto 2021 is 123. The first Consultant in Medical Administration, Dr. W.A.A. Tissera was Board certified in 2007. Since then, there are 45 Board Certified Consultants in Medical Administration up to 2021.

Earlier, the Office of the CMASL was functioning at the Management, Development and Planning Unit (MDPU) of the Ministry premises and in 2012 it was established in the Directorate of Healthcare Quality and Safety in the premises of the Castle Street Hospital for Women, Colombo 08.

At present, the College is strengthened with a membership of nearly 400 junior and senior Medical Administrators who are either presently employed or retired. They are working or have worked as Medical Administrators in the Ministry of Health, Provincial Health Institutions, Armed Forces or Private Health Sector. The College has been awarding Fellowships for its members in recognition of their outstanding commitment and dedication to the College and the field of Medical Administration. Honorary Fellowships are awarded to non-members who have significantly contributed to the betterment of the field of Medical Administration. Almost all the founder members and past Presidents have been honoured with Fellowships by the College.

The CMASL conducted its first Scientific Sessions on 4th December 1993. Since then the College has been conducting its Scientific Sessions annually as a platform for academic and professional advancement of its membership. The Silver Jubilee (25th) Annual Scientific Sessions was conducted in 2017 during the presidency of Dr. Neelamani Hewageegane.

The College has been publishing ‘The Sri Lanka Journal of Medical Administration’ which provides a platform to inculcate research culture among Medical Administrators. It is publishing the 22nd Volume of the Journal this year. Moreover, the College has initiated publishing its first Newsletter in 2008 during the Presidency of Dr. Rani Fernando. The Editorial Board comprised of Dr. Sarath Samarage who was the Secretary to the College at that time, Dr. W. M. T. B. Wijekoon and Dr. Rathnasiri A. Hewage. After more than 10 years break, publication of a College Newsletter was reinitiated in 2021, as suggested by the Academic Committee chaired by Dr. Champika Wickramasinghe, under the Presidency of Dr. Saman Rathnayake. The Editorial Board members are Dr. P.L. Athapattu, Dr. Sanath Goonasekera, Dr. S.A.P. Gnanissara, Dr. S.M. Samarage and Dr. Neelamani Hewageegane. The Volume 1 of this second College newsletter, named as ‘CMASL News’ was published in four issues in this year. 

The CMASL has obtained membership of the World Federation of Medical Managers (WFMM), other members being Australia, Canada, the USA, the UK, South Africa, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands and Iran.

As the prestigious professional body of Medical Leaders in Sri Lanka, the College of Medical Administrators of Sri Lanka is looking forward to continue its service to further strengthen its members with required knowledge, skills and professionalism to provide leadership to the healthcare not only in our beloved motherland, Sri Lanka, but also in the world.  

Written by Dr. P.D. Koggalage, Council Member – 2021

08th December, 2021

Bibliography

Dalpatadu, K.C.S. (2016) ‘Presidential Address’. The Sri Lanka Journal of Medical Administration,18(2), pp. 06-13.

Director, Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo (2021). email to Koggalage P.D, 06 December 

Jayasuriya, L. (2021). email to Koggalage P.D, 02 December

Perera, R. (2015) Responding to people’s needs – The saga of technical management of healthcare services. Available at: www.reggieperera.wordpress.com (Accessed: 17 November 2021) 

Samarage, S.M. (2013) ‘Presidential Address’. The Sri Lanka Journal of Medical Administration, 15(1), pp. 06-15