Another eventful year has passed by and we would like to summarize the events, achievements and work of DoCM in the year 2021.
DoCM academic staff had several important milestones in 2021. Dr Gayani Amarasinghe has been promoted to the Post of Senior Lecturer Grade II.
Dr Nuwan Wickramasinghe delivered the prestigious F A Wickramasinghe Oration of the Sri Lanka College of Community Physicians in 2021.
The DoCM research work and the RAPCO has led to two national policy changes in 2021. Family Health bureau published a new guideline on screening for anaemia and screening for thalassaemia in May 2021. This circular is based on a Policy Brief prepared by DoCM in 2020.
In addition, a Policy Brief on identification of families with Household Food Insecurity was also submitted to the FHB. This HFI tool was developed as a part of RAPCO and will be used for national programmes.
DoCM presented RAPCO baseline data on obesity among pregnant women for the national consultative meeting on obesity in pregnancy.
The UG training and teaching programme was heavily affected from COVID-19 outbreak. However, the pandemic has opened new doors for annotative training programmes. DoCM has pioneered and continued many online teaching programmes in the faculty. Through the access to coursera, the largest online learning platform, students were facilitated with access to more than 10,000 hours of learning hours for Rajarata from top rated global universities.
Of the undergraduate teaching and training activities, the third Undergraduate Research Symposium of the FMAS (3rdURSFMAS) organised at the completion of the ‘Research in Medicine’ module was one of the most important milestones. It was conducted as an online session in 2021. The quality of research output and the presentations were well appreciated by external reviewers and academic staff. Further, a number of research groups had the opportunity to present in both national and international conferences.
Awards and Recognitions
Year 2021 again marked one of the best achieving years for DoCM members with numerous national and international awards.
Dr Dinesha Jayasundara, MPhil trainee of the DoCM and lecturer, department of Microbiology, FMAS, RUSL has received the prestigious Tissa Vitarana Gold Medal for Post Graduate Diploma in Medical Microbiology.
DoCM researchers won the best oral presentation of the session and the prestigious Dr S D Vldyasagara Award for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health, one of the four main awards of the session at the 26th Annual Academic Sessions of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka is the premier public health conference in Sri Lanka.
RAPCO researchers have previously won the prestigious Sir Nicholas Attygalle Award – for the best paper in the 133rd Anniversary International Medical Congress of the Sri Lanka Medical Association, the Best paper award under the “Improving Mental Well-being” category in the 25th Annual Academic Sessions of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka
They also received Best Research Award in the 53rd Annual Scientific Congress of the Sri Lanka College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Chair Professor of the Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Rajarata University of Sri Lanka, has been listed among the World’s Top 2% Scientists.
Prof Agampodi, chair professor of the department, was awarded the Most Outstanding Researcher (total score 1461), Researcher with the highest H-Index (23) and the Researcher with the highest Citation(2100) with RUSL affiliations. In addition, Prof.Agampodi received the Award for the researcher with the highest number of articles published in the indexed journals.
Prof Thilini Agampodi and Dr Nuwan Wickramasinghe also received awards for being in the top six researchers with highest H-Index and Citations in RUSL.
All the other department members received RUSL awards for publishing index articles.
Currently, 14 PG students are enrolled with the DoCM. Seven of these PhDs are with international supervisors and linked to global PhD training programme. The main areas of work include Leptospirosis, Leishmaniasis and Maternal Health.
Dr Buddhika Wijerathna received his MPhil degree in the convocation held in 2021.
DoCM has conducted series of PG training workshop including SPSS, Qualitative research. These were opened for all Sri Lankan researchers.
With the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka, DoCM carried out a pre-congress workshop on Anthropology and Ethnography on Public Health Research
Two residential training workshops have been conducted for FMAS research trainees in October and December 2021.
The research output of DoCM in 2021 included 22 peer-reviewed publications in PubMed indexed journals. These publications covered a wide range of important public health topics, including maternal and child health, communicable diseases and mental health.
DoCM members and affiliates presented more than 30 conference papers in 2021. These abstracts were presented in the Nutrition 2021, SLMA 2021, APACPH 2021, CCPSL 2021, KSM 2021 and SSM 2021 conferences.
RaPCO projects “Dasa Masaka Sihinayata” book was published by Samudra Publishers and made available for the general public to ensure easy access to the knowledge related to pregnancy and childbirth
COVID-19 response ..
As a part of our public health service programme, DoCM has been extensively involved in COVID-19 activities. DoCM Chair has been appointed as an Expert Panel member to review the Sri Lankan Covid-19 Control Strategies. DoCM has continued the public awareness which was initiated at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Q&A type posts and active public engagements were done to educate the general population and to address the misbeliefs. Some of the DoCM COVID-19 posts has been receiving more than 110k reach and 11K page engagements with 6K shares in social media. DoCM continued to update the public on COVID-19 with an interactive dashboard for daily updates. Of the many COVID-19 related activities, a mental health promotion activity was also launched by the department to support mental well-being during the pandemic.
DoCM, with the support of many volunteer donors, launched a programme to improve access to education among marginalized populations. This project initially aimed at improving early childhood development, especially among communities severely affected by COVID-19. Later, it was expanded to include all children later and formally included in the department academic programme to have a sustainable programme.
So far, the project has supported more than 60 families including around 130 children, providing basic needs, educational material for formal and informal education, and a complete set of books for the school library