Dr. T. Varagunam's Message
The KSM Sets New Trends: In 1964, the inaugural year of the KSM, there was a closely knit group of about 20 doctors who were the KSM members. At that time we never foresaw the meteoric rise of the membership which now stands at more than 500 and consists not only of doctors but also of scientists working in the health field.
In 2009 Dr. Harith Wimalaratne, a competent physician, will hand over the Presidency of the KSM to a first class scientist –Dr. Vajira Weerasinghe who is not a medical doctor but a doctor of philosophy. This is in keeping with the current global trends in professional colleges and in medical societies where the best person is chosen to lead, irrelevant of whether he or she is a medical doctor. This phenomenon is also a reflection of the maturity of the KSM which has been in the forefront of showing how to bring about a change for the better in the functioning of medical institutions and societies.
Continuing Medical Education (CME) has been the main forte of the KSM. Many doctors and patients have benefited by it. Although there is no hard empirical evidence, CME has helped young doctors to pass post graduate examinations; practising doctors have improved the quality of medical care and as a result patients have benefited indirectly from it. As regards Research, although the KSM has given only minimal direct support to individual projects, it has provided considerable indirect support. Starting in 1977 the annual sessions have provided an important forum for the presentation of new findings in research. More than 2000 research abstracts have been presented, but even more important than the numbers is that research of a high quality and of high relevance to Sri Lanka has been presented and discussed. The natural history of Peripheral vascular disease and the neurological consequences of organo- phosphorus poisoning are just two examples of the relevance to Sri Lankan health problems. The KSM’s Sri Lanka Medical Journal (SMJ) although tardy in its publications has provided an opportunity to publish quality clinical research of high relevance to Sri Lanka. Another form of indirect support to research has been the award of the KSM Prize for Health Research. A total of 10 outstanding scientists have won this award so far; the first award being in 1993.
Plotting the progress of this innovative and energetic society was first done by the KSM Council in 1993 in a booklet called ‘A brief history of the Society’. Subsequently in 2007, during the tenure of her husband’s presidency, Chandrika Jayasinghe produced a more elegantly detailed account, embellished with photographs, of the Society’s progress over the years. These publications were motivated by the need to document, for future generations, the process of strengthening of this unique association-the KSM. These publications are also indicators of how much its members value the work of the KSM.
The current update of the KSM website, for which I am writing this document, is yet another step in the right direction. The KSM, knowing that the medium of communication in the next decade will be of a more electronic nature, has embarked on this project with foresight and imagination. It is also in keeping with the essential character of this far thinking and innovative Society-the KSM- whose ultimate goal is to improve health care in Sri Lanka through the support of CME and Research.
Vidya Jyothi Dr. T. Varagunam
MBBS(Cey), M.D., FRCP, MEd (Illinois)
Eastern University of Sri Lanka