E M Wijerama Endowment Lecture

E M Wijerama Endowment Lecture


Dr. Edmund Medonza Wijerama was born on 6th August 1896. He hailed from the southern city of Kosgoda and received his education at the Rajapakse College and later on at the Royal College in Colombo. He entered the Ceylon Medical College in 1916 and qualified with Licentiate to Practice Medicine and Surgery (Ceylon) in 1922. He completed his internship at the Colombo General Hospital and served as District Medical Assistant, Avissawella for a short duration before returning to the Colombo General Hospital as a Medical Registrar. Subsequently he proceeded to complete his post-graduate studies at the University College Hospital, London.

Upon completion of his postgraduate training he returned to Ceylon and was put in-charge of teaching students pre-clinical subjects as well as clinical teaching. He served as the Pathologist, General Hospital, Colombo for a brief period. In 1935, armed with both M.D and M.R.C.P. (Lond) he was appointed Consulting Physician, General Hospital, Colombo, a post he held till his retirement in 1956.

He took an intense interest in medico-social activities in the country and actively participated and steered the affairs of the Ceylon Branch of the British Medical Association (now the SLMA). He served as the President of the Association in 1947-1948. The SLMA lived a nomadic life for almost 80 years till Dr. Wijerama and his wife graciously gifted their magnificent residence, where he lived and practiced for years to the Association in 1964. His magnanimous gesture was appreciated and recognized by naming the McCarthy road, on which the house was located after him as the “Wijerama Mawatha” during his lifetime. Even today, the “Wijerama House” at No 06, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 07 houses the SLMA office and the Ceylon Medical Library (now the Sri Lanka Medical Library) and it personifies the extraordinary contribution of this singular medical personality to the betterment of the profession.

He was also an active member of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), which was also in its formative years at the time. He remained an active member of the GMOA and later became its president. He was a member of the Ceylon Medical Council and later its President, contributing immensely to advancement of medical ethics and etiquette in the country. He was a physician of outstanding caliber who took much interest in medical education, both undergraduate and postgraduate. He was a member of the University Court for several years and was conferred the Doctorate of Science by the University of Jaffna in recognition of his service to medical education in the country.

The inception of the Ceylon College of Physicians was the first audacious step to foster postgraduate training in Sri Lanka and Dr. Wijerama was elected its Founder President, a post he held for a maximum period three years. During his presidency arrangements were made with the Royal Colleges of Physicians of London, Edinburgh and Glasgow to hold the Part 1 of M.R.C.P. (UK) in Sri Lanka; the first time this examination was held beyond the borders of UK. Dr. Wijerama was the first to be elected Fellow of the Ceylon College of Physicians and but was bestowed the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in his later years.

Dr. Wijerama was a great historian and a philanthropist. He gave back to the society unostentatiously and generously. He was an active member of the Committee of Management of the Royal College, his alma mater and passionate Buddhist worker. He contributed greatly to the expansion of the Y.M.B.A. Colombo in which he was a member of the Board of Management for many years.

He was a man who practiced what he preached, a medical educationist who fashioned the future generations of the profession and a humanitarian whose acts of munificence extended beyond the boundaries of any professional, religious or racial confinements. He passed away in December 1980 at the age of 84, leaving behind a legacy that still lives on and ripples through the lives of all those who pass through the doors of the “Wijerama House”.

Past Orations

2014 – “Protect the Values of a Noble Profession” – Dr Preethi Wijegoonewardene

2013 –  “Something good in everything I see” – Dr Eugene Corea

2012 – “Research and Beyond ……….” – Professor Sanath P Lamabadusuriya MBE Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics, University of Colombo

2011 – Evoluation of the nervous system – Darwin’s missing chapter –  Deshamanya Dr. J. B. Peiris MD, FRCP, FRCPE, HonFRACP, Senior Consultant Neurologist

2010 – Light Reflections of a Peripatetic Medical Professor – Vidyajyothi Professor Colvin Goonaratna MBBS (Ceylon), FRCP (London & Edin), PhD (Dundee), FCCP, FNAS, Hon DSc (Colombo), Emeritus Professor of Physiology, University of Colombo

2009 – Road Traffic Accidents and Deaths; They are not doing anything about it – Deshamanya Professor A H Sheriffdeen, Emeritus Professor of Surgery, University of Colombo

2008 – Of Divers and Diving – Dr. Malik Fernando, Past President, SLMA.

2007 – Bioethics in the 21st century: responding to the challenge – Prof Anoja Fernando, Senior Professor of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Galle.

2006 – Tumours of the Heart and Pericardium: Diagnostic and Therapeutic Challenges – Dr S J Stephen MBBS (Cey) MS, FRCS (Eng), FRCS (Ed), FCCP, FACA, Hon FCS (Sri Lanka), Senior Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon

2005 – Reflections on changes in the Medical scenario in Sri Lanka in the past half century. Dr Dennis J Aloysius, Family Physician and Past President SLMA.

2004 – Improving management and prevention of trauma in Sri Lanka – Dr Gamini Goonetilleke, Consultant Surgeon, Sri Jayawardenepura General Hospital, Kotte.

2003 – Towards a better managed health service – Dr Lucian Jayasuriya, Medical Advisor, GlaxoSmithKline.

2002 – Equity in Health & Health Care – Prof Dulitha N Fernando, Professor of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo.

2001 – Medical Negligence – the Sri Lankan scene – Prof. Ravindra Fernando, Professor of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo.

2000 – Epilepsy out of the shadows: experience in Sri Lanka over two decades – Prof. Nimal Senanayake, Senior Professor of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya.

1999 – Renal failure in the tropics – Dr. S. Ramachandran, Consultant Physician.

1998 – A personal odyssey in Ling Disease – Dr. C. G. Uragoda, Consultant Chest Physician