Sri Lanka, Democratic Socialist Republic of

Capital: ColomboArea: 65 . 610 km2Population: 21 . 283 . 913Official Language: Sinhala, TamilArmed Forces Personnel: 275 . 000Medical Officers: 363Military hospitals / institutes / schools: 20 / / Missions: 1

Surgeon General
no applicable position

History of Medicine and Military Medicine
According to the principal historical document Mahavamsa,
written in the 6th century A.C. King pandukabhaya (4th century
B.C) had hospitals (sivikasotthi Sala) built in various
parts of the country. The oldest archeological evidence we
have so far of a hospital is in the ruins of Mihintale.
Heinz E Müller-Dietz (Historia Hospitalium 1975) describes
Mihintale Hospital as being perhaps the oldest in the world.
The layout of the building and discovery of a medical through
prove this. The plan of Mihintale hospital complex is such
that thirty one rooms can be identified on a high platform.
There are a number distinctive features in this hospital complex
including consulting room, Rooms for hot water baths,
Outer court, Inner verandah court yard, Shrine room and
Room for medicinal bath.

Sri Lanka has had a chequered history of military campaigns
extending over several centuries from ancient to modern
times. The first military engagement in Sri Lanka's history is
marked with the advent of Vijaya, a prince of North India who
landed with his followers on the beaches of northwestern Sri
Lanka around 543 B.C. Later the local population had to contend
with waves of invasions from South India, which were
followed by wars with the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British.
King Dutugemunu (200 B.C.) is reported to have raised
an army of eleven thousand inhabitants in his battle against
King Elara, a Chola. King Dutugemunu’s organizational skills,
bravery and chivalry are famous and his battles have gone
down in history as outstanding offensive operations against
a foreign enemy. There are also instances where the tide was
reversed and local Sinhala armies invaded neighbouring
countries. Internecine conflicts among the various kings and
princes added a further dimension to the military scene. The
European invaders maintained a military presence in Sri
Lanka both in times of peace and war. In the present century,
the two great wars, while not affecting the country directly
except during the two air raids in 1942, had a tremendous
impact on Sri Lanka.

Medical support for these military hostilities was a sine qua
non, for not only had the injuries to be treated, but epidemic
diseases peculiar to massed concentrations of manpower in
a tropical climate had to be controlled. In this respect the
plight of the invading armies was sometimes worse than that
of the local forces. The European invaders facing the enemy
in an unfriendly climate sometimes found that disease,
which took a heavy toll posed a bigger threat than the

The contemporary structure of the Sri Lankan military health
care services is that there are separate health services for
the Army, Navy and air Force. Consequently there is no formally
appointed Surgeon General. However, the tri-services
and the respective health services are integrated to a certain
extent by the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (OCDS) and
the General Sir John Kotalawala Defence University (KDU)
and the KDU Hospital. Since the early 1980s the Sri Lankan
forces were engaged in protracted Civil War with insurgants,
from which they emerged victorious in May 2009.


Sri Lanka Army
Photo Army Headquarters
Baladaksha Mw
Colombo 3, Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka Army is the oldest and largest of the Sri Lanka
Armed Forces. Established as the Ceylon Army in 1949, it
was renamed when Sri Lanka became a republic in 1972.
Currently the SLA has approximately 180,000 regular personnel,
30,000 reserve personnel and 18,000 National Guardsmen
and comprises 13 operational divisions, one air-mobile
brigade, one commando brigade, one special forces brigade,
one independent armored brigade, three mechanized infantry
brigades and over 40 infantry brigades.

Army Health Services
Photo Sanjeeva H. Munasinghe, RWP, VSV, USP, MD
Major General
Director General Health Services
Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps
Army Hospital
Colombo 05, Sri Lanka

The beginning of the Corps dates back to 1881 when
stretcher bearer (Medical) company was raised as a part of
the Ceylon Light Infantry (Volunteers). This became an independent
battalion in 1911 and was called Ceylon Medical
Corps (Volunteer). After Ceylon gained independence; Ceylon
Army was formed in 1949. In 1950 1st Battalion of Ceylon
Army Medical Corps was created as a regular force in Ceylon
Army. With this, volunteers became the second battalion.
The Corps was renamed as Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps in
1972 when Sri Lanka became a republic. 3rd Battalion of Sri
Lanka Army Medical Corps was formed in 1999 in Anuradhapura.
In 2001 Army Nurses Training School was established
at Anuradhapura. The 4th Battalion of Sri Lanka Army Medical
Corps was formed in November 2007 and the 5th Battalion
of Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps was formed in April
2010 at Panagoda.
The SLA’s main area of focus is Combat and Trauma medicine
which has been mastered during the 30-year conflict. At
present Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps have four regular units
and one volunteer unit. The main hospital of the SLA shown
below is the 1000 bed Army Hospital located in Central
Colombo at Narahempita.

Sri Lanka Navy
Photo Navy Headquarters
PO Box 593
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan Navy is the navy of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces
and is classed as the most vital defence force of Sri
Lanka due to the country's island geography. It is responsible
for the maritime defence of the Sri Lankan nation and its
interests. Sri Lanka, situated in the middle of major sea
lanes passing through the Indian Ocean, was always a magnet
for seafarers and has a long history of naval campaigns.
The current Sri Lankan Navy with a projected strength of
55,000 men was established on 9 December 1950 when the
Navy Act was passed for the formation of the Royal Ceylon
Navy. The roots of the modern Sri Lankan Navy date back to
1937 when the Ceylon Naval Volunteer Force was establish -
ed, which was renamed and absorbed into the Royal Navy as
the Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during World War
II. The current name Sri Lanka Navy was constituted in 1972
when Sri Lanka became a republic and the introduction of
new constitution.
Photo In recent years it has played a key role in the Sri Lankan Civil
War, conducting surveillance and patrol, amphibious and
supply operations. During the war, the navy moved from a
small force focused on coastal patrols to a large combat force
concentrating on asymmet ric naval warfare capable of amphibious and land
operations in support of counter-insurgency operation that
progressed into engagements of a new form of littoral zone
warfare. It carried out expeditionary deployments in the
Indian Ocean in order to intercept rogue arm shipments on
the high seas. The navy has its own elite special forces unit,
the Special Boat Squadron.

Navy Health Services
Photo Lalith Ekanayake, VSV, USP, MD
Rear Admiral MC
Director General Health Services
Naval Headquarters
P O Box 593 Colombo, Sri Lanka

Physical and mental health of Naval personnel is imperative
for an efficient Navy. With modern facilities available and
professional staff, majority of Naval patients are being
manag ed in the Navy Hospitals, Sick Quarters and Sick Bays.
Opportunities are available for Medical staff members
numbering 1300 personnel to specialize in their profession.
Majority of Medical branch sailors have gained specialized
paramedical training in many disciplines both in Sri Lanka
and abroad.

Photo The SLN’s main area of focus is Diving medicine, also called
undersea and hyperbaric medicine (UHB), which includes
the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of conditions caused
by personnel entering the undersea environment. It
includes the effects on the body of pressure on gases, the
diagnosis and treatment of conditions caused by marine
hazards and how relationships of a diver's fitness to dive
affect a diver's safety. The SLN’s main hyperbaric chamber is
located in the East in Trincomallee and is used as a treatment
for two of the most significant diving-related illnesses,
decompression sickness and arterial gas embolism. The main
hospital of the SLN shown below is the 300 bed Navy General
Hospital located in North Colombo at Welisara.

Sri Lanka Air Force
Photo Sri Lanka Air Force Headquarters
Colombo 02,
Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) is the air arm and the youngest
of the Sri Lanka Armed Forces. It was founded in 1951 as the
Royal Ceylon Air Force (RCyAF) with the assistance of the
Royal Air Force (RAF). The SLAF played a major role through -
out the Sri Lankan Civil War. The SLAF operates more than
160 aircraft and has a projected trained strength of 35,000
men, who are from both regular and reserve service. The Sri
Lanka Air Force has expanded to specialize mainly in providing
air-support to ground forces, troop landing, and carrying
out air strikes on rebel-held areas in the Northern and Eastern
theatres, but is also capable of high- and low-level air

Air Force Health Services
Photo Lalith Rukman Jayaweera, USP
Air Commodore
Director Health Services Air Force
Sri Lanka Air Force Headquarters
Colombo 02, Sri Lanka

The Air Force Health Services provide the Medical and Dental
Health support, which is necessary to maintain the high
degree of combat readiness and effectiveness in the Sri
Lanka Air Force. The Health Services comprise approximately
600 personnel, providing a spectrum of medical, nursing,
medical technical and medical support capabilities. The
majority of personnel are employed in the support and provision
of primary and secondary health care services.


The SLAF’s main area of focus is Aerospace Medicine provid -
ing medical support to operational missions and serve as
staff advisor to flying squadron commander. Aerospace
Medicine Specialist examines personnel requiring special
medical care standards to determine fitness for flying and
special duties, or to recommend continuance, removal or
return to flying status and aviation service. The main hospital
of the SLAF shown below is the 100 bed Air Force Hospital
located in Central Colombo at Guwanpura.

Military Hospitals

Faculty of Medicine:
Photo The distribution of the tri-service hospitals General Sir John Kotalawela Defence University

General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) was
initially established as the “General Sir John Kotelawala
Defence Academy” in 1981 and subsequently it was elevat -
ed to University status in 1988, thereby empowering it to
award Bachelors’ and Postgraduate degrees in Defence Studies.
KDU is a member of the Association of Commonwealth
Universities (United Kingdom) and maintains necessary
stand ards for educating and grooming Officer Cadets to meet
the challenges of modern defence management. KDU is open
for students who wish to continue their higher studies in the
fields of Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Social
Sciences and IT.

Officers with exceptional performance in reputed universities/
institutions can pursue postgraduate studies in accord -
ance with the requirements of the Service to which they
belong. Civil professionals are also offered a place at postgraduate
studies to excel in and study a post graduate
degree in their related field of expertise.

Tri Services Hospital:
General Sir John Kotalawela Defence University Hospital

Photo General Sir John Kotalawela Defence
Kandawala Road,
Sri Lanka

Photo NELW Jayasekera, VSV, USP, MSc, MBA, MD
Rear Admiral MC
Chief Executive Officer Kotalawela Defence
University Hospital
Sri Lankan Representative of ICMM

The long awaited 704-bed University Hospital of the General
Sir John Kotelawala Defence University is gradually taking
shape and is scheduled to commence operation early this
year. This state of the art, tertiary care facility is not only
intended to be the teaching hospital of the Faculty of Medicine,
KDU but also a centre of excellence for the whole country,
delivering cutting edge healthcare services in an environment
of discipline and trust. The hospital will be modelled
on a unique concept of Public-Private mixed healthcare delivery
in Sri Lanka where it will provide all the services expect -
ed of a tertiary care hospital to the tri-forces and public of
the country while also having a private wing that aims to
offer private healthcare standards in par with any hospital in
the South Asian region and beyond.
Photo Hospital will deliver services in all the major specialties
including General Medicine, Surgery, Paediatrics, Obstetrics,
Psychiatry, Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery, Neurology, Dermatology,
Urology, Plastic Surgery, ENT Surgery, Ophthalmology,
and OMF surgery. The hospital will also have Department
of offering a full range of cancer services, a fully equipped
department of Radiology, a modern Fertility
Centre. Accordingly, this comprehensive health care facility
will have seven main functions, namely: Accidents and Emergency
(A&E) Services; Out Patient Services with general and
specialized services including day care surgery; In Patient
Services; Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services; Administrative
Services; Support Services; Undergraduate (Medicine,
Nursing & Paramedical) and Postgraduate Training. The
KDUH shown below is located at in the south of Colombo at

Other Special Aspects
Sri Lanka College of Military Medicine (SLCOMM) Established

Marking a major milestone in Sri Lankan military history, over
400 medical and dental officers of the three armed forces
combined to establish Sri Lanka College of Military Medicine
222 ALMANAC Military Medical Corps Worldwide – Edition 2017

(SLCOMM) at the inaugural general meeting convened on Friday
the 18th March. The SLCOMM has been conceived and
driven to its inception by an interim committee consisting of
the respective heads of the three military medical services,
namely Surgeon Rear Admiral NELW Jayasekera of Sri Lanka
Navy, Major General S Munasinghe of Sri Lanka Army and
Group Captain L Jayaweera of Sri Lanka Air Force.

The main objectives of the college are to provide support in
continuous professional development, training and network -
ing among its members, research, advocacy, policy formulation
and resource development.

The event took place at a solemn ceremony with the participation
of Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Engineer Karunasena
Hettiarachchi as Chief Guest and Chief of Defence
Staff Air Chief Marshal K. A. Gunatilleke as Guest of Honour.
Nine office bearers and nine council members members were
elected uncontested to the executive committee. The
founder president Surgeon Rear Admiral NELW Jayasekera
was inducted by the chief guest. In addition to the executive
committee, Major General C Thurairajah (Rtd) was elected as
the Patron of the college. The founder president in his
address spoke of 05 eras of history related to military medicine
in Sri Lanka from the time of the Kings to the present
day and events leading to the formation of the college. The
Secretary of Defence addressing the gathering outlined how
engineering contributed to the field of medicine. The Chief of
Defence Staff also addressed the gathering and ceremonially
unveiled the SLCOMM website, www.slcomm.org.


05/15/2018 - 05/18/2018
1st Congress of APIMSF 2018
05/28/2018 - 05/31/2018
09/02/2018 - 09/05/2018
Meeting of the SDFDS
11/13/2018 - 11/14/2018
6th DiMiMED Conference
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