Professor Indika Karunathilake

Dear Members of Sri Lanka Medical Association,

In April 2005, SLMA NEWS, the Newsletter of the Sri Lanka Medical Association carried the Editor’s note, “SLMA Sessions Totally Virtual – A Dream or Reality”. That prediction I made 15 years ago, as the then Edi-tor of the SLMA, has now become a reality. Tthe 133rd Anniversary International Medical Congress of the Sri Lanka Medical Association is being held as a virtual on-line conference from 24th to 26th July 2020, and webcast worldwide from the historic Wijerama House in Colombo.

Established in 1887, the SLMA is the oldest profes-sional medical association in Asia and Australasia. It has contributed immensely towards the betterment of health of the nation over the years. During this global COVID-19 pandemic, the SLMA helped to con-tain the spread of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka by creating awareness among the public and by playing a pivotal role in the formulation of interim guidelines for screening and management of patients. It has taken a lead in advocacy initiatives of safety protocols and continues to work closely with Sri Lankan authorities and international organisations to ensure the wellbe-ing of Sri Lankan citizens.

COVID-19 has inflicted an unexpected and unprecedented degree of uncertainty worldwide. Experts predict that life now would not be the same as in the pre-COVID era. Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Continuous Professional Development (CPD), are not exceptions in this regard. The digital and techno-logical transformation of CME and CPD is accelerated due to the challenges of adapting to the post-COVID New Normal.

The SLMA took a bold decision to go ahead with the congress considering our responsibility towards CPD and CME. This congress may be the only opportunity for medical professionals, allied health professionals and students in Sri Lanka to present their research findings at an international conference during 2020. Pre-conference workshops, a Keynote Address, Sym-posia and Guest Lectures have been planned, consid-ering the need to adapt to the New Normal. In the process of developing policy and regulatory frame-works and public health interventions, the SLMA has utilized the expertise within itself, to bring together multiple stakeholders on to a single platform. The congress will give us an opportunity to listen to, engage with and learn from experts and practitioners on best practices adopted to mitigate these challenges.

The challenges faced when organising this year’s con-gress were immense, including the acquisition of hardware, training human resources, availability of low cost/free software solutions. This was complicat-ed further by the current global and national financial crisis. My heartfelt gratitude goes to everyone who contributed towards the success of the congress, in-cluding the Guests of Honour, the Resource Persons, Organizing Committee, SLMA staff, sponsors and very specially, all the participants.

With over 400 registered participants, and the exper-tise provided by local and international resource per-sons, this is going to be a landmark global event.

Thank you.

Professor Indika Karunathilake,
President, Sri Lanka Medical Association