Sir Marcus Fernando Memorial Oration

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Born on 21st October 1864 Marcus Fernando was the son of Andrew Fernando, a reputed old family in the Island. He received his primary education at St Benedicts College and then at the Colombo Academy, which later on was named the Royal College. He was an outstanding who was awarded many prizes including the Gilchrist Scholarship for the East in 1882 and the Ceylon Government Scholarship in 1883.

At the age of nineteen, Marcus entered the University College, London being the first student from Ceylon to study Medicine there. It took him only four years to qualify with the degree of Bachelor of Medicine and he proceeded to the M.D. the same year. He qualified in 1888 with the M.B. obtaining the University Gold Medal in Medicine and Forensic Medicine. He also became a licentiate of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries. The following year he obtained his M. D. and was made a Fellow of the University College in 1890, the first Ceylon graduate to be so honored.  In 1891 he returned to the Ceylon and joined the Government Medical Service. He was the second physician to be appointed to the Colombo General Hospital. Dr. Marcus Fernando was the first Ceylon doctor to hold the post of Registrar to the Medical College (1890-1897).

He was an exemplary physician, diagnostician and a teacher who had a special interest in Tropical Diseases. At the age of thirty-four he was appointed Senior Physician to the Colombo General Hospital as Lecture in Medicine in the College.

Dr. Marcus Fernando was the Secretary of the Ceylon Branch of the British Medical Association from 1891 to 1897 and became the President in 1905, being re-elected for the second term in 1914.

At the age of forty-five having reached the peak of his chosen profession, Dr. Marcus Fernando resigned from Government Medical Service and devoted a major part of his greater energies to his many varied interests including agriculture, economics and politics. In 1921, he became the first Sinhalese Member in the Legislative Council and was appointed a member of the Executive Council. He was also a member of the Salaries Commission, which reviewed the conditions of Public Service. His services her dully recognized by a knighthood in 1923, giving him the singular honor of being the first Sri Lankan medical professional to be knighted.

Sir Marcus Fernando’s list of achievements is exhaustive and includes many distinguished positions such as President of the Ceylon Economic Society, Island Magistrate, Chairman of Board of two banks, Director and later the owner of a newspaper and being member of the Banking Commission that lead to the formation of the Bank of Ceylon.

At the age of seventy-one, on 18th December 1953 in London, Sir Marcus Fernando departed from this world, leaving behind a legacy that do date, stands unchallenged and unparalleled.

Past Orations

2014 – “Depression: addressing the local burden in the context of global mental health”, Professor Athula Sumathipala, MBBS, DFM, MD, FSLCGP (SL), MRCPsych, CCST (UK), PhD (Lon), Professor of Psychiatry, Institute of Research for Primary Care and Health Sciences, University of Keele, Hon. Director, Institute of Research and Development, Sri Lanka

2013 – “Malaria Mucosal Vaccines: the promise and the challenge”, Professor Surangi G. Yasawardene, MBBS, PhD, Professor of Anatomy and Head, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda

2012 –  “Controlling iodine deficiency disorders in Sri Lanka”, Dr Renuka Jayatissa, MBBS, MSc, MD, Consultant Medical Nutritionist, Head, Department of Nutrition, Medical Research Institute, Colombo

2011 – Not Awarded

2010 – Sniffing Dementia Early.Dr Shehan Williams MBBS, MD, MRCPsych, MPhil, Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya

2009 – Not Awarded

2008 – Colitis in Sri Lanka – from Macroscopic to Microscopic. Dr Arjuna De Silva MBBS, MD, MRCP (UK), MSc (Oxon), Consultant Physician, Senior Lecturer Medicine, University of Kelaniya

2007 – Determinants of bone mineral density and hip geometry – Prof Sarath Lekamwasam, Professor in Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Galle.

2006 – Tackling the problem of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in Sri Lanka: towards the health of our future generations – Prof. Chandrika Wijeyaratne, Professor in Reproductive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

2005 – Early results of green light laser prostatectomy: a challenge to TURP – Dr Srinath Chandrasekera, Senior Lecturer, Department of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Sri Jayawardenepura

2004 – Improving stroke care: what can we do? – Dr Udaya Ranawaka, Consultant Neurologist, Teaching Hospital, Kurunegala

2003 – From Bench to Bedside – The Role of TNF – ? Polymorphisms in Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Dr Arjuna de Silva, Resident Physician, National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Colombo

2002 – The incidence, seasonal pattern and different modes of presentation of mycoplasma pneumoniae infection in Sri Lanka – Dr. U.K Jayantha, Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna.

2001 – Some Aspects of Bronchial Asthma – Dr. J.H.L. Cooray, Consultant Chest Physician, Chest Clinic, Colombo.

1999 and 2000 – Not Awarded

1998 – The role of nitric oxide in childhood hypertension – Dr. Chulananda Goonasekera

1997 – External high frequency oscillation – a new mode of ventillatory assistance – Dr. Shyam Fernando, Senior Lecturer in Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo.

1996 – New frontiers in fungal infections – Dr. Maya Attapattu

1995 – Not Awarded

1994 – Evolving dengue and dengue haemorrhagic fever in Sri Lanka: a major disease threat. Dr. Tissa Vitharana

1993 – Not Awarded

1992 – Morbidity and Mortality in a defined population in Sri Lanka – Prof. Shanthi Mendis

1991 – Not Awarded

1990 – Health status of tea pluckers in Sri Lanka – Prof. Ravindra Fernando

1988 and 1989 – Not Awarded

1987 – Viral Hepatitis in Sri Lanka – Dr. Tissa Vitharana

1986 – Renal failure: Profile and Challanges – Dr. S. Ramachandran, Consultant Physician, General Hospital, Colombo.

1983 and 1985 – Not Awarded

1983 – Some aspects of epilepsy in Sri Lanka – Prof. Nimal Senanayake, Associate Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya.

1979 -1982 – Not Awarded

1978 – The management of ruptured intracranial aneurysms – Dr. W.S.L. Gunasekera, Additional Neurosurgeon, Neurosurgical Unit 1, General Hospital, Colombo.

1977 – Not Awarded

1976 – Brain Abscess – Dr. S.A. Cabraal, Neurosurgeon, General Hospital, Colombo.

1975 – Not Awarded

1974 – Hepatic Amoebiasis – Dr. S. Ramachandran, Physician, Colombo North Hospital, Ragama.

1973 – Not Awarded

1972 – Cardiomyopathies in Ceylon – Dr. N. Nagaratnam, Physician, General Hospital, Colombo.

1971 – The renal complications of diabetes mellitus – Dr. S. Ramachandran.

1970 – Post partum hypopituitarism in Ceylon – Prof. K. Rajasuriya, Professor of Medicine, University of Ceylon, Colombo Campus.

1969 – Life and work of Sir Marcus Fernando – Sir Max Leonard Rosenheim, President Royal College of Physicians London.