Professor Indika Karunathilake

Dear Members of Sri Lanka Medical Association,

We express our heartfelt gratitude to all of you, the doctors and the healthcare professionals who are combating COVID -19 in the front line at this very moment. You are real heroes! The SLMA is in the process of implementing a reward programme for the health heroes of Sri Lanka. We also wish to thank all the Sri Lankans for the immense sacrifices made to adhere to the instructions of health authorities and hope that this storm too will pass in due course. As the apex medical association in the country, the SLMA has a responsibility to the medical profession and the general public to contribute in its maximum capacity in this fight against COVID-19. In that light, the SLMA has been relentlessly working with the government authorities, other professional colleges and other sectors to plan and implement many initiatives during this period. 

The strength of the Sri Lankan health system is in disease prevention. However, we have limited resources in the curative sector and highly inadequate intensive care facilities to optimally mange the critically ill during an epidemic. We must capitalize on the unique forte of our health system and focus even strongly on preventive measures such as sanitation, health education, disease monitoring, and quarantine measures, as well as isolation of proven or suspected cases. The situation calls for return to the basics. The Sri Lankan health system has long experience in implementing these basic preventive approaches. Coupled with stringent preventive strategies and strict enforcement of regulations, Sri Lanka can contain the spread of this epidemic.

We must recognize that these difficult times are marred with many uncertainties in terms of social, health and financial security. Uncertainties lead to fear. Excessive fear leads to chaos. Community empowerment and engagement is the mantra for success in this crucial situation. We as doctors have a responsibility to alleviate such fear in the medical community as well as the general public. Our responses must be evidence-based and adjusted according new emerging data. No one in this word has ever fought this battle before. Everyone is learning on the go. I urge all my fellow doctors to come together in close collaboration with one another leaving aside any political or personal agendas in this hour of need.

Let us work together, sharing knowledge and experience, complementing, adjusting and improving the efforts of Sri Lanka’s fight against COVID-19.

Professor Indika Karunathilake,
President, Sri Lanka Medical Association