Transformation of a College

The college of surgeons had a rather humble beginning in the early 60s (1960 -1970) as the Association of Surgeons of Ceylon. The senior surgeons in Colombo formed an organization to host UK examiners who came for the Primary FRCS Examination. The surgeons of that era worked hard to foster and nurture the Association.

In 1970 a decision was made to form the college of surgeons. After a lackluster response followed by an inducement dinner, a general meeting was held and the college was inaugurated.

Dr. P.R Anthonis was elected as the founder president in 1971. The college had rather a slow progress in the initial years as It had no assets, no ‘house’, no office space, no staff and inadequate funds to sustain itself. It was the valiant efforts of the surgeons of the 70s and 80s that kept the college afloat. The council meetings had to be held in many venues. Finally a small room was obtained at the headquarters of the Sri Lanka Medical association at Wijerama house.

Now the college had an office, but it was hardly sufficient accommodate all the council members during a meeting. The annual sessions had to be held in several venues including the Anatomy block of the Faculty of Medicine Colombo, the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute and the SLMA auditorium. Amazingly despite these difficulties the college survived and progressed gradually. Due to the untiring efforts of the surgeons of that era, annual sessions, seminars, guest lectures, updates etc. were held regularly.

Till 1993 the term of the President was two years and in 1993 it was reduced to one year by a resolution. In 1982-1983 the College Journal was started with sponsorship from Mr. Esmond Satharasinghe, Chairman Brooke Bonds Ltd.

In 1995 under the Presidency of Prof Arjuna Aluvihare the first joint annual academic sessions with the SAARC surgical care society was held in Kandy. This was the first annual sessions held outside Colombo.

In 2000, then President Prof A.H Sheriffdeen with the assistance of Mrs. Anne Ranasinghe and late Dr Vimala Navaratne worked tirelessly towards ensuring the donation of the residence of Dr Noel & Mrs. Nora Bartholomeusz, to the college. The great generosity of Dr Noel & Mrs. Nora Bartholomeusz in donating their very valuable property to the college is remembered with a lot of gratitude by all previous present and future surgeons.

The CSSL moved to the new premises in Sept 2003. The first Council was held on the 9th Sept 2003. The Official opening took place on March 2004. The progress of the college has been exponential since then. A 200-seater auditorium was built in 2009. A Skills development centre was added in 2011 with the assistance of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The SAARC Surgical Care Society headquarters was built in Rajagiriya. The college now had a proper headquarters and other real estate.

The college has built strong international links and has close association with many international surgical bodies including the all three Royal colleges of UK, The SAARC surgical society and the international Society of Surgeons (ISS/SIC).

Presidents of many surgical societies have graced CSSL activity since its inception. Presidents, office bearers and members CSSL take part in annual sessions of other countries as representatives and guest speakers many times each year.

The college has been in the forefront of postgraduate training surgical in Sri Lanka The CSSL conduct most of the training activities for the post graduate surgical trainees. CSSL has contributed much to develop a “Research Culture” in Surgery. The CSSL fully supported the decision of the Board of Study in Surgery to make research a mandatory component in surgical training. Due to these efforts the college receives more than 150 scientific submissions during the annual sessions.

The Sri Lanka Journal of Surgery the journal of the college has progressed into a publication matching journals of other international journals. The journal is expected to receive the status of an indexed journal soon.

The college has a membership of 650 currently. It has multiple assets, 8 Permanent staff members. The CSSL is truly transformed. There are plans to build a new 5 story academic building at the NB Foundation.

With committed leadership and motivated membership, the sky is the limit- perhaps even beyond! The vision of the college is college to provide the best for all patients and trainee surgeons.

Professor Ranil Fernando

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