With the easing of travel restrictions in and out of Jaffna and the improvement of the conditions in the peninsula after the military operation ‘Riviresa’ in 1995, and more freedom being afforded to the Citizens of Jaffna many doctors returned to their homes in Jaffna and resumed work at the hospital as well as the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Jaffna.
THE DOCTORS IN JAFFNA DECIDED TO RE-ACTIVATE THE JAFFNA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION WHICH WAS DORMANT FOR SEVERAL YEARS BECAUSE OF THE CIVIL WAR
Jaffna Medical Association
- This was the only medical association in the entire Jaffna peninsula
- The association originated in 1941 as Jaffna Clinical Society and the first president was Dr. S Subramaniam, the Provincial Surgeon of Jaffna
- The objective of the association was the advancement of medical knowledge in the Northern region of Ceylon as it was then called.
- This active medical body was re-named as the Jaffna Medical Association (JMA) in 1969 under the presidency of Dr. Kolitha Karunaratne.
- The association was active before 1983 and used to conduct many medical meetings, Seminars and Symposia for the membership. The highlight of the JMA was the academic sessions where doctors presented their original work to the membership.
- The motto of the Association is –“Ab Uno Disce Omnes-” From One Learn All (English)
- In 1982, the JMA decided to honour one of its members who was also an illustrious Past President’s and inaugurated the Dr. V T Pasupathy Memorial Lecture.
- The inaugural lecture was delivered by Dr. P. Sivasubramaniam L.M.S., D.O.M.S., FRCS (England), a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon
- It is customary to decorate the doctor who delivers the oration with a beautiful medal called the Dr. V T Pasupathy Medal presented by the Jaffna Medical Association.
Eleventh Annual Academic Sessions of the J M A – 1999
During my visits to the Jaffna Hospital and the Faculty, I was informed that they had an idea of re-activating the annual academic sessions in 1999 and requested my participation as a guest as they could not think of anyone else from the South of the country visiting Jaffna to attend the sessions. I agreed to their request with thanks.
Finally, they decided to have their meeting in September 1999 after a lapse of some 16 years.
It was a pleasant surprise when I received a call from Dr. V Kunanandam the President of the Jaffna Medical Association (1999) who was also a Visiting Professor and Head of the Department of Surgery inviting me to deliver the prestigious Dr. V T Pasupathy Memorial Lecture of the JMA for 1999.
I HAD NO HESITATION IN ACCEPTING THE INVITATION SINCE I CONSIDERED IT A GREAT HONOUR BESTOWED ON ME BY THE JMA BY INVITING ME TO DELIVER THE PRESTIGIOUS LECTURE AFTER A LAPSE OF SEVERAL YEARS
- The academic sessions were to be held after a lapse of some 16 years and my support and the presence of a doctor from a region other than the North was important for them.
- I could not disappoint the organisers.
- That was a way of paying tribute to me in recognising my services in Jaffna at a time when a conflict was on in that part of the country.
- What was even more important was that…
I WAS THE FIRST DOCTOR FROM THE SOUTH TO BE GIVEN THE HONOUR OF DELIVERING THIS PRESTIGIOUS ORATION. THAT WAS A GREAT GESTURE ON THE PART OF THE JAFFNA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
The Academic Sessions of the JMA – 1999
- The academic sessions were held over a period of three days (September 9-11).
- There were presentations by the junior doctors together with seminars and symposia.
- I was invited to deliver two Guest Lectures. The titles of those lectures were Incisional Hernia and Laparoscopy in Surgery (war surgery was left out)
- Travel to and from Jaffna was by Sri Lanka Air Force Aircraft arranged by the organisers.
- Accommodation was provided in the doctor’s quarters at the Jaffna Hospital
The Chief Guest was a doctor from Jaffna itself, who held a senior staff position in the Department of Health- Dr. V Jeganathan, Additional Director General of Health Services (Medical Services)
The Dr. V T Pasupathy Memorial Lecture – 1999
- It is customary in a memorial lecture/oration delivered in honour of a renowned personality to express a few words about that personality at the beginning of the lecture.
- Although a renowned and illustrious medical personality in the northern region, I had never heard about him. Therefore, I had to gather some details at least about his medical career, for this lecture.
- This was possible because the Jaffna Medical Journal (JMJ) the official publication of the JMA published since 1953 was available at the Sri Lanka Medical Association Library in Colombo.
- Details about Dr. V T Pasupathy were available in the September 1982, Vol.XV11, No 2 issue of the JMJ which had published the Inaugural Memorial Lecture delivered by Dr. P Sivasubramaniam, where-in he had described details about Dr. Pasupathy.
I learnt the value of publishing, the value of journals and also the value of a library where reference material is available and should be made use of by the medical professionals even today as all the old literature may not be available on the web.
The council of the JMA had decided to follow the customs for this type of memorial lecture even under difficult conditions with many constraints. That included a procession of the council members and the mace bearer. The President of the JMA and the lecturer were at the rear of the procession which is customary at such meetings.
The President of the JMA introduced me to the audience and decorated me with a beautiful medal, which indeed was a surprise to me. I was humbled by the honour bestowed on me and accepted the medal with humility and happiness but the task ahead of me was challenging; namely, to pay homage to an illustrious medical personality of the North about whom I knew very little except what I had gathered from the journal of the JMA. I did my best under these conditions!
The title of my lecture
Although I had gathered wide experience in the management of ‘war injuries’, I felt it was too sensitive a subject for a lecture to be delivered to an audience already affected by many issues resulting from war in addition to injuries. Therefore I decided to deliver a lecture on a common surgical problem of diverse aetiology that will interest all the doctors, medical students and the nurses of the Jaffna Hospital.
Title of Lecture ‘AN OVERVIEW OF DYSPHAGIA‘ (Dysphagia refers to difficulty in swallowing. The lecture dealt with surgical causes of Dysphagia)
Participating in more meetings in Jaffna
As the situation in Jaffna improved gradually more medical associations decided to have joint meetings with the Jaffna Medical Association. This was mainly to extend a hand of friendship and solidarity with the medical profession in Jaffna as it could not be carried out for several years because of the civil war. One such meeting was the meeting of The College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka with the Jaffna Medical Association which was held in Jaffna in which I participated as a Fellow and a Past President of the College.
Joint Meeting – 2005
The College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka with the Jaffna Medical Association – JAFFNA
Both senior and junior members of The College of Surgeons participated in this historic meeting in Jaffna during war-time. Our host was the Jaffna Medical Association who made our stay in Jaffna very comfortable. The travel to Palaly, Jaffna was in a Sri Lanka Air Force aircraft.
A grand welcome was afforded to us in typical Northern style which was unique. The inauguration ceremony included typical Jaffna songs, music and dance. The food served was delicious “Jaffna Style” preparations of a wide variety of seafood and other customary ‘mouth-watering’ Jaffna dishes, too numerous to mention.
The academic meeting consisted of a series of lectures covering a wide variety of surgical subjects delivered by both junior and senior surgeons.
It was undoubtedly a very successful meeting establishing the long-lost friendship between the doctors of the North and the South. More meetings were to follow to show our solidarity.
Dear Reader, If you haven’t read my earlier story, you can read by clicking this following link : “Rewarding” journeys and a changing scenery in war-torn Jaffna’
You also might be interested in watching some of our other photo gallery links are given here : ‘WAR FRONT – 1’ – ‘WAR FRONT – 2’ / ‘PHOTO GALLERY – PICTORIAL JOURNEY OF SURGERY’ / ‘MY LIFE’ / ‘SPORTS’
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