Colombo Medical Congress 2020
The Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo is on the eve of its 150th year Anniversary- a historic celebration for the Faculty, the University and for Medicine in Sri Lanka. As part of these celebrations, the Faculty, together with its alumni association (CoMSAA), and the University of Colombo, organized the Colombo Medical Congress 2020 from 12th to 15th February 2020 on the theme “MEDICINE IN SRI LANKA: THE LEGACY AND THE FUTURE’. The Inauguration held at the Waters Edge Hotel was attended by about 900 participants. The chief guest, Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, and the Keynote speaker, Professor Kamini Mendis are both distinguished alumni of the Faculty. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (Geneva), delivered a special video-message during the Inauguration. A highlight of this event was the felicitation of former Vice-Chancellors of the University and Deans and Chair Professors of the Faculty. The ceremony included the launch of the 150th year Anniversary Volume and a cultural interlude by our medical students.
The Academic Sessions were held from 13th-15th February at the Faculty. This was perhaps the largest ever medical congress in the country and had 303 lectures in 6 parallel sessions, 230 Abstracts (59 as oral presentations and 171 as posters) and 9 workshops. The topics ranged from clinical topics to genomics to planetary health to gender-based violence to medical humanities. There were two-panel discussions, a Grand Plenary that explored ‘Visions for the Future’ and another on ‘Engaging with Alumni’. A Congress publication of very high quality was published by the Colombo University Press. Student participation was encouraged by offering free registration and obtaining Senate approval to include the Congress lectures as a part of the time-tabled academic activities.
Other activities held during the Congress included, the University of Colombo Global Medical Challenge, a medical quiz held with the participation of 10 Universities from Sri Lanka and overseas, history walks to reminisce on historical aspects of the buildings in the National Hospital and the Faculty, musical interludes by teams of students during the lunch breaks, a Peduru Party hosted by CoMSAA (Colombo Medical School Alumni Association) on 14th February, attended by more than 200 at the newly opened green space in the former quadrangle of the Faculty and the Colombo Medical Banquet organized by the CoMSAA. Some of the unique features of the Congress were the minimization of conflicts of interest when mobilizing funds, providing healthy food options to participants, and minimization of the use of plastics. Professional expertise for various activities of the Congress were provided via our very own alumni, including the design of the logo and other branding for the conference by the Institute of Multimedia Education headed by Dr. Dinil Abeygunawardane and the floral arrangements by Lassana Flora headed by Dr. Lasantha Malavige. Several follow-up activities are planned, including the conduct of a regular annual Colombo Medical Congress, establishment of novel research themes (e.g. development of medical devices), and strengthening the role of alumni in developing the faculty (e.g. establishing a Research Fund and a Foundation to mobilize resources).