The farsighted policies for the development of the pathology services of this country by training future pathologists received maximum implementation in the 1960s under the direction of Professor G.H. Cooray, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ceylon, Doctors W.D. Ratnavale and Doris Peiris, Pathologists, General Hospital, Colombo, and the Directorate of the Health Services of the time. The early 1970s saw the return from Britain of these recently trained and qualified pathologists who established a countrywide pathology service which extended to the provincial and the base hospitals. These hospital pathologists generally worked single handed and provided diagnostic services in the four major disciplines of haematology, histopathology and morbid anatomy, microbiology and chemical pathology. Several consultant pathologists were appointed to the general hospital laboratories in Colombo and Kandy which had teaching commitments while some of the larger provincial laboratories too received additional assistance from specialists like public health bacteriologists and non medically qualified biochemists. At the Medical Research Institute in Borella, diagnostic service was available for all the laboratories in the country which had no pathologists or a sufficient number of medical laboratory technologists. When specific test requests in any laboratory were infrequent the MRI provided a referral service. The histopathology services for the country which were originally provided by the staff of the university department were now shared by the health department laboratories and the universities.

The Need for an Organized Body

At this time, most pathologists agreed that there was a clear need for an organised body to represent them, but there was a divergence of views as to whether it would be possible to unite all those who practised the several disciplines of laboratory medicine. The Ceylon Paediatric Association had already been inaugurated in 1952 and the Ophthalmological Society of Ceylon in 1957. 1967 had seen the birth of the College of Physicians and the Association of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The Association of Surgeons had become a College of the Surgeons in 1971 and the members of the Independent Medical Practitioners Assciation had formed the College of General Practitioners in 1972. In the field of laboratory medicine, the Medico-Legal Society of Ceylon was established in 1937, the Ceylon Chemical Society was formed in 1940 and the Ceylon Association of Microbiologists which later became a College was inaugurated in 1969 and all three societies admitted non medical members as well. It was at this time that the College of pathologists came into being and it would be appropriate here to recall how it happened.

The First Meeting

In February 1975, with the help of Dr. Doris Peiris, Pathologist, General Hospital, Colombo and Dr. H. R. Wickremesinghe, Neuropathologist, during an informal discussion in their room, I drafted the format of a letter which was sent to all eligible pathologists on 1.3.75 inviting them for a meeting on 15.3.75 to initiate the formation of a body to promote the development of pathology and allied fields. Extracts from the minutes of the Inaugural meeting are as follows. In response to this invitation a meeting was held at 5.00 p.m. on 15.3.75 in the Consultants Lounge of the General Hospital, Colombo. 18 pathologists were present at this meeting. Dr. W.D. Ratnavale was elected protem President and Dr. D. P. K. M. de Silva protem secretary. The house then discussed whether to form a college or an association and unanimously decided to form a College of Pathologists. Dr. Balasubramaniam proposed that this meeting be considered the inaugural meeting of the College of Pathologists of Sri Lanka. This was seconded by Dr. Mrs. Ranee Perera and was passed unanimously by the house The house then drafted the Constitution of the College. Dr. H. R. Wickramasinghe proposed that the draft Constitution be accepted by the house. This was seconded by Dr. Mrs. N. Prematilleke and was unanimously passed by the house.

The First Council

The Office Bearers for year 1975 were elected as
Dr. W.D. Ratnavale
Vice president
Prof. G.E. Tennekoon
Dr. D.P.K.M. de Silva
Dr. S.B. Ellepola.
Dr. N. Parameshwaran
Prof. Daphne Attygalle
Prof. R.G. Panabokke
Dr. Miss. Doris Peiris
Dr. A.B.V. Perera
Dr. Mrs. M. Mahendra
Dr. C.C. Balasubramaniam
Dr. Mrs. N. Prematilleke

The house then decided to inform the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine of the establishment of the College of Pathologists. The nominees to the board of study were Drs. Ratnavale, A.B.V. Perera, D.C. Peiris and Prof. Panabokke and they were in addition to the two professors of pathology in the universities in Colombo and Peradeniya.

The College Grows

The pathologists had responded, the College was born and a series of events occurred. A far reaching decision was taken to invite all doctors practising even a single branch of laboratory medicine to become founder members of the College i.e. within one month of the inaugural meeting. These included university staff not already in pathology departments, all microbiologists, parasitologists, mycologists, serologists, immunologists, and virologists of the Medical Research Institute and other institutions, staff of forensic pathology and blood transfusion and judicial medical officers. The records show that the response was satisfactory. In order to understand the progress made by the College in its early days, it would be relevant to look back on the development in early times of pathology as a specialty. In Sri Lanka, progress in college affairs since its inception a decade ago has been linked with the fact that all pathologists until the advent of the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine of the University of Colombo were trained in the U.K. and hence carried with them the attitudes and prejudices ingrained in the British system. But the Sri Lanka College did not admit non medical members.

Founder Members

Category A - Members present at the inaugural meeting on 15.3.75
Attygalle, Daphne
Balasubramaniam, C.C.
De Silva, D.P.K.M.
Elllepola, S.B.
Gunasekara, Sriya M.
Jayaweera, F.R.B.
Mahendra, Meena M.
Panabokke, R.G.
Parameshwaran, N.
Peiris, Doris C.
Perera, A.B.V.
Perera, D.J.B.
Perera, Ranee N.
Prematilleka, M. Nanda
Ratnavale, W. D.
Tennekoon, G. E.
Wickremesinghe, H.R.
Yoganathan, Mangayar Karasi

Category B - Members who joined within one month of inauguration.

De Alwis, A.H.P.
De Silva, Chitrika K.
De Soysa, Nandrani S.
Fernando, H.V.J. Prof.
Fernando, N.V.P.
Gunawardane, P.E
Kodagoda, N. Prof.
Natkunam, Annlukshmi
Pathmanathan, V.S.
Perera, M.V.
Sarveswaram, R.
Wijeratnam, Gnaneswary
Wijesekara, S.V.J.
Wijesinghe, D. Priya.

Office Bearers 1975-1978

President W.D.Ratnavale
Vice president G.E. Tennekoon
Secretaries D.P.K.M. de Silva
S.B. Ellepola
Treasurer N. Parameshwaran
Council Daphne Attygalle
R.G. Panabokke
Doris Peiris
Meena Mahendra
A.B. V. Perera
C.C. Balasubramaniam
Nanda Prematilleke
Editor Ranee Perera

Office Bearers 1978-1979

President G.E. Tennekoon
Vice President Doris Peiris
Secretaries S.B. Ellepola
D.P.K.M. de Silva
Treasurer D.J.B. Perera
Council Daphne Attygalle
R.G. Panabokke
Nanda Prematilleke
A.B. V. Perera
M.S.G. Karunanayake
F.R.B. Jayaweera
N. Chandrasiri
Editor H.R. Wickremesinghe

Office Bearers 1979-1983

President Doris Peiris
Vice president Daphne Attygalle
Secretaries H.R. Wickremesinghe
F.R.B. Jayaweera
Treasurer D.J.B. Perera
Council G.E. Tennekoon
A.B.V. Perera
M.S.G. Karunanayake
D.P.K.M. de Silva
R.G. Panabokke
Ranee Perera
W.D. Ratnavale
Editor Gnanes Sri Balasubramaniam

Office Bearers 1983-1984

President Daphne Attygalle
Vice president R.G. Panabokke
Secretaries G. Sri Balasubramaniam
F.R.B. Jayaweera
Treasurer S.D. Atukorale
Council W.D. Ratnavale
Mangay Yoganathan
Doris Peiris
Nanda Prematilleke
D.J.B. Perera
D.P.K.M. de Silva
Ranee Perera
Editor H.R. Wickremesinghe

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