Category Archives: Members Blog

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Prof Tissa Vitarana being awarded the Vidya Jothi Award

The Investiture Ceremony of conferring National Honours on distinguished personalities, who rendered a noble service to the country and its advancement was held on March 20th at the Nelum Pokuna Theater, under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena.

These awards were bestowed on the most distinguished persons who have made outstanding contributions to the country and its advancement. At this ceremony, held after 12 years, the President presented national honours to 89 persons lauding their individual contributions in many spheres.

At this ceremony Prof Tissa Vitarana, a Past President and Fellow of the Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists was awarded the Vidyajothi award. The Vidyajothi award honours outstanding scientific and technological achievements involving original research. The nature of the award is a citation and a silver medal with the symbol of the sun. The number of holders is restricted to fifty.

The President, Council and members of the Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists would like to congratulate Prof Tissa Vitarana on this notable achievement and for bringing honour to the College.

Annual evaluation of infection prevention and control of Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital 2016

The annual evaluation of Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) activities of 2016 of Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (SJGH), Nugegoda, Sri Lanka was held on 17th of January 2017. The chief guest of the occasion was the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) of Sri Lanka, Dr. J.M.W. Jayasundara Bandara. Dr.S.Sridharan, Director- Health Care, Quality & Safety, of ministry of health, nutrition & indigenous medicine of Sri Lanka also participated as a special invited guest.


While welcoming the guests Dr Kushlani Jayatilleke, Consultant Microbiologist of SJGH thanked all those who supported to have a successful IPC programme throughout the year. She presented the Guidelines on Core Components of Infection Prevention and Control Programmes at the National and Acute Healthcare Facility Level of World Health Organization, for which she contributed as a member of the Guideline Development Committee, to the DGHS. She explained how Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance in Sri Lanka can be reduced by implementing those core components in Sri Lanka. The DGHS handed it over to the Director- Health Care, Quality & Safety for implementation.

The Chairman Dr Athula Kahandaliyanage and the Director Dr Susitha Senaratne, of the hospital addressed the gathering in addition to the DGHS and the Director- Health Care, Quality & Safety.

The deputy director of SJGH, Dr Santhushya Fernando, the Secretary of the Hospital Board of management Mrs Thilani Rajapaksha , Consultants of the hospital as well as the Matrons and nursing sisters of each unit, Liaison nursing officers in IPC from each unit, Public Health Inspectors of the hospital, Medical Record Officer, Supply Officer, chief MLT of the laboratory and other relevant staff also participated.

The summary of data on Healthcare Associated Infections with trend analysis and the activities carried out by the IPC unit in 2016 were presented by Mrs Benita Wijesinghe and Mrs Subha Buddhadasa, the IPC nursing officers.

The prizes were announced by Mrs Shashika Karannagoda the IPC nursing officer. The best 3 units in IPC activities were selected by using a pre-determined marking scheme considering, the activities related to IPC carried out by the units, their performance at monthly check list evaluation and audits and the participation of the members of the staff in IPC meetings and training programmes. The labour room won the first place while ward 9 and 10 secured the 2nd and the 3rd places respectively. The nursing sisters and the Liaison nursing officers in IPC who had best attendance at the Infection Prevention and Control Committee meetings were also given prizes. Nursing sisters of ward 8, ward 20, ICU and Labour room had highest attendance of 83% while the Liaison nursing officers in IPC in ward 10 and 9 had the highest attendance of 100% and 91% respectively.


Chief nursing officer Mrs. A. N. Saputhanthri thanked all those who graced the occasion and those who helped to organise the event.

Achievements in Clinical Bacteriology – 2016


Dr. Lilani Karunanayake, Consultant Clinical Microbiologist,
Medical Research Institute

The Department of Bacteriology at the Medical Research Institute (MRI) has expanded with the introduction of revolutionary facilities and techniques in clinical microbiology.

2016 is a landmark year, with the commencement of automated bacterial identification with antibiotic susceptibility and serology testing, and the establishment of a molecular biology unit for the diagnosis of infectious bacterial diseases in Sri Lanka.

Opening of the newly established molecular biology unit at the Department of Bacteriology by Dr. Sunil De Alwis, Deputy Director-General (Education, Training and Research), Ministry of Health

The BD Phoenix, an automated Bacterial Identification and Antibiotic Susceptibility system, is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka and was installed in the Department of Bacteriology, Medical Research Institute

Inspection of the automated serological analyzer by the Deputy Director-General (Education Training & Research) at MRI
Inspection of the automated serological analyzer by the Deputy Director-General (Education Training & Research) at MRI

National External Quality Assessment Scheme in Bacteriology (NEQAS)

We are the sole organizer of the National External Quality Assessment Scheme in Bacteriology (NEQAS) in Sri Lanka. The program was enhanced by introducing lyophilized bacterial cultures and gram stain slides in the examination panel and by making laboratory visits to the participant laboratories for the monitoring of Internal Quality Control (IQC) on site. We visited 5 hospitals in the Uva Province this year.

Laboratory visit to District General Hospital, Nuwaraeliya - with Dr. M. Abeywardene, Consultant Clinical Microbiologist and her team
Laboratory visit to District General Hospital, Nuwaraeliya - with Dr. M. Abeywardene, Consultant Clinical Microbiologist and her team

In November 2016, we held a one-day program on Quality Assurance in Bacteriology for Medical Laboratory Technologists (MLT) of microbiology laboratories in both state- and private- sector institutions participating in NEQAS, MRI.

Some of the participants in the one-day workshop at the auditorium, MRI
Some of the participants in the one-day workshop at the auditorium, MRI

Achievements in Research

We have had 3 research publications and 7 presentations in several academic sessions.  We won 3 research awards and completed 4 research projects in 2016.

Contact Details

Dr Danister de Silva Mawatha • Colombo 8 • Sri Lanka

Phone: 94-11-2693532-5 fax: 94-11-2691495

Ext: 336 Clinical microbiology -
344 Reference Laboratory for Leptospira –
353 Quality Control and Media preparation


By   Prof. Nilanthi de Silva

On 13 June 2016, Sri Lanka lost another doyen in the field of Medical Parasitology. Prof Ismail was one of the earliest members of the Sri Lanka College of Microbiologists, serving as its 11th President, in 1987. In 2015, when the College decided to honour those who have served the College and our profession by awarding honorary Fellowships, the Council was unanimous in deciding that Prof Ismail should be among the first recipients of a Fellowship. 

Mohamed Mahroof Ismail obtained his MBBS from the University of Ceylon and his PhD in Medical Parasitology from McGill University, Canada. He also spent a post-doctoral year at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in the UK. After his return to Sri Lanka, he worked at the MRI for several years and became its Director in 1983. In the same year, he joined the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo as the Professor of Parasitology and later served as Dean of the Faculty from 1994 to 1996. Throughout his working life, Prof Ismail engaged in research, mostly on lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted helminths. His work was of such quality that it had significant impact on national as well as international health policies in relation to control of both groups of infections. The most significant body of work that he and his collaborators produced was to demonstrate for the first time that albendazole combined with diethylcarbamazine citrate or ivermectin has a pronounced and sustained effect of reducing microfilaraemia for over two years. This combination is currently being successfully used by the WHO and the Ministries of Health in 83 endemic countries as part of the global strategy to eliminate filariasis.

Prof Ismail also held many eminent posts, serving as a member of the University Grants Commission, as the Chairman of the Board of Management of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medicine; and as external examiner in Parasitology of the University of Malaya as well as the National University of Malaysia. He served the WHO at its Headquarters in Geneva, and in the South East Asian Regional Office in New Delhi in many different capacities:  as Chairman of the WHO Expert Committee on Soil-Transmitted Helminthiases; as a member of the WHO Expert Committee on Lymphatic Filariasis and the WHO Technical Advisory Group for Lymphatic Filariasis; as a WHO Consultant to Egypt and Bangladesh to revise their National Filariasis Control Programmes; and Chairman of the South East Asian Programme Review Group for the elimination of lymphatic filariasis from 2002 until 2006.

I am just one of many who owe an immense debt of gratitude to Prof Ismail. I learnt much of my parasitology from him, as a medical student, as a postgraduate student, and even after that. He was one of the examiners at my MD examination in 1994. I still recall very clearly, the occasion when I went to thank him after passing the exam. I was a young probationary lecturer back then, who had just started working at Ragama, in a medical faculty that was virtually in its infancy. My husband Janaka and I met Prof Ismail in the Dean’s Office in the Colombo Medical Faculty. We talked of this and that, and then I asked him if he had any suggestions for research. He immediately shared with us an idea that had occurred to him while attending a WHO meeting a few weeks previously. He said that this study could only be done in Sri Lanka because of the confluence of circumstances at that moment in time, but that it had the potential to transform international policy with regard to deworming programmes. Together with other colleagues from Ragama, we turned this idea into a study that was eventually published in one of the foremost medical journals. This little episode is only one example of the unassuming generosity and supportiveness that Prof Ismail extended to all who came into contact with him. He probably never thought twice about what he did, but for me, it was a landmark in my academic career.

Over the decades since then, we came into contact at regular intervals, especially at Parasitology oral examinations for medical students. Those times when I was his co-examiner were days that I really enjoyed, because Prof Ismail somehow turned them into learning experiences for both students and me, and his unfailing sense of humour lessened the tedium of coping with medical students who seemed to view Parasitology oral exams as an instrument of torture.

As he gradually withdrew from the professional arena, Janaka and I tried to stay in touch by visiting him at home. He was an unfailingly courteous and considerate host, and we learnt that he was an excellent cook, who also enjoyed good food. We also saw a marriage that seemed to have been made in heaven. Prof Ismail and his wife Jezima, an equally eminent figure in her own right, in the field of education, lived their life together, not only in bringing up a family, but in many other ways that sought to support the underprivileged and disadvantaged.

I have had the privilege of following in Prof Ismail’s footsteps, in that my research has been largely in the same fields. At international meetings, mention of my Sri Lankan nationality often results in enquiry after Prof Ismail. World-renowned experts speak of him with much respect and affection. One of them characterized him as a ‘gentleman and a scholar’ – a phrase which struck me as a particularly appropriate description of Prof Ismail. May he rest in peace!