Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne

Dear SLMA Members,

It is with a profound sense of humility that I undertake the esteemed position of 129th President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), a pioneering Medical Association in the region. The honour of being elected to this role is one that I hold in the highest regard. As a medical professional who has dedicated a significant portion of a career to advancing community-based health interventions and policies outside of the state, private sector, as well as academia, I am deeply appreciative of the confidence and trust placed on me by the Past Presidents and the members of SLMA.

I have proposed not only a theme for 2023 but also a call to action. In these challenging times we as medical practitioners must work on the theme ‘Towards Humane Healthcare: Excellence, Equity, & Community’, more than ever. I will lead the SLMA Council and our wider work efforts to promote this collective ambition.

To achieve a high degree of proficiency in the various sectors of healthcare, it is imperative that we implement effective governance mechanisms that promote accountability, transparency and inclusivity in practice. A central aspect of this effort must be a focus on equity in the delivery of healthcare services; a principle that holds great significance to me.

SLMA utilizes specialized ‘Expert Committees’ consisting of subject matter experts in various fields of healthcare. To achieve the goal of providing ‘Humane Health Care’, in this year we propose to strengthen existing committees and to create new ones to expand their scope. Exploring sustainable financing options for Universal Health Care (UHC) in these tough times is crucial to continue healthcare services. The shortage of professionals, medicines, and instruments will largely impact the wellbeing of our people. We need to actively lobby and pursue sustained action in responding to the crisis.

Addressing social determinants of health disparities and fostering active engagement with the community are essential components of our mandate. Furthermore, it is crucial that we actively involve citizens, in health promotion efforts, to enhance overall health and well-being and thereby ensure the sustainability of our impact.

Medical professionals, as members of the healthcare community, have a bigger say to affect social change by advocating for laws and procedures that will improve the health and well-being of both people and the communities. In an era where people, particularly the youth of our country are continuing to demand justice and equity, this can be accomplished by putting the emphasis on tackling the social determinants of health, which have a significant impact on health outcomes. These factors also include poverty and limited access to healthcare and education. Furthermore, doctors can actively promote public health focused policies by acting as crucial lobbyists, public educators and legislators, thanks to their specialized knowledge and influential positions. We also have a duty to advance equity and deal with access and performance gaps in healthcare in assuming the role of social change agents.

Throughout the year the SLMA intends to host a series of dialogues, workshops, seminars, and academic endeavours, to enrich our professionals as well as our impact. I invite everyone to take part in these activities as well as in our annual entertainment events to network with each other and expand horizons.

As medical professionals, it is our duty to prioritize the well-being and welfare of all Sri Lankans, especially during difficult and uncertain times. We must take active steps to fulfil this responsibility without delay, in alignment with our shared vision ‘Lankadipassa kiccesu ma pamaj’. Let us work for the good of All Sri Lankans without delay, in promoting our nation’s overall health, wellbeing, and prosperity.

The Council of the SLMA and I extend our warmest wishes for a prosperous and joyful new year filled with happiness, good health, and contentment for you and your loved ones.

Dr Vinya Ariyaratne
President – SLMA