From left: SLT CEO Kiththi Perera, University of Sri Jayewardenepura Vice Chancellor Prof. Sampath Amaratunge, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Secretary R.M.D.B. Meegasmulla, SLT Group Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena, SLT COO Priyantha Fernandez and Prof. Vajira H.W. Dissanayake
Professor Vajira H.W. Dissanayake was honoured with the Life Time Achievement Award Digital Excellence at the SLT ZeroOne Award Ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka for the yeomen contribution he has made over the years to promote and facilitate the development of digital health in Sri Lanka and internationally.
Prof. Vajira H.W. Dissanayake
Professor Dissanayake’s unique contribution to the field of Digital Health dates back to 1997 when he became a founder member of the Medical Informatics Committee of the Sri Lankan Medical Association, and subsequently the first Secretary General of the Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka a year later.
On an initiative of the Health Informatics Society, which he spearheaded, the University of Colombo, established the Specialty Board in Biomedical Informatics with Prof. Dissanayake as its founder chairperson. The board runs the MSc in Biomedical Informatics and MD in Health Informatics Courses that lead to board certification of specialists in the field of Health Informatics in the country. Sri Lanka is only the second country in the world, after USA, to recognise Biomedical and Health Informatics as a medical specialty. Over the past decade, Sri Lanka’s Digital Health ecosystem has grown around the graduates of this program. They have spearheaded the development of a sustainable digital health ecosystem in Sri Lanka. Prof. Dissanayake has been giving leadership to these initiatives at national level since 2009.
These initiatives that commenced in Sri Lanka were internationalised in 2016 when Prof. Dissanayake took over as the President of the Commonwealth Medical Association.
The leading role that Sri Lanka is now playing globally in the field of digital health under the leadership of Prof.
Dissanayake is highlighted by;
- The Commonwealth Digital Health Initiative, a program founded by him.
- The establishment Commonwealth Digital Health Centre, which was launched during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.
- The setting up of W.H.O. collaborating centre for Digital Health at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, which is currently in progress.
- The recently concluded Digital Health Week that was held in Colombo with the participation of over 600 delegates from 60 countries.
Professor Dissanayake holds several portfolios that exemplify the role he plays to further the development of Digital Health in Sri Lanka and internationally. He is the current,
- President of the Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka,
- Chairman of the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health, and
- President Elect of the Asia Pacific Association for Medical Informatics
He also serves as,
- A member of the Digital Health Guidelines Development Group on Reproductive, Maternal, Child, Newborn, and Adolescent Health of the World Health Organisation
- A member of the Working Council of the Asia eHealth Information Network
- A member of the steering committee of the Global Digital Health Index, and
In in the field of medicine he is the;
- President of the Commonwealth Medical Association
- A member of the Executive Board of the Global Genomics Medicine Collaborative, and
- A Board Member of the Forum for Ethical Review Committees in Asia and the Western Pacific
In addition to the roles he plays at the University of Colombo as,
- Chair Professor and Head of Department of Anatomy, and
- Director of the Human Genetics Unit.
He has held the office of President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association in 2012.
In recognition of his outstanding contribution he was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka in 2013 – the highest national honour that academics could bestow on a one of their peers.