High level Sri Lankan visit to the Centre for Global Health Histories and University of York

Posted on 24 November 2017

A report on Her Excellency Amari Wijewardane's recent official visit to the University of York

The Department of History’s Centre for Global Health Histories at the University of York was honoured to host Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the UK, Her Excellency Amari Wijewardane, and the country’s Third Secretary for Education, Mr. Sam Cooray, on the 10th of November 2017.

The day-long visit was a celebration of Dr. Suranga Dolamulla’s success in competing for a prestigious Wellcome Trust Research Award in the Medical Humanities for Health Professionals that allows him to develop an evidence-based assessment of the many bases of, and the most effective means of countering, Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR) in Sri Lanka. A meeting was held in the morning to discuss how Dr. Dolamulla, the country’s Director of Tertiary Health Care who is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in the Department of History, will oversee the translation of his findings into socially, culturally and politically acceptable medical and public health policies of relevance in low and middle income countries. The practicalities and policy implications of other important AMR and Sri Lanka-related work in the University, which is focussed on identifying and limiting the environmental drivers of this problem, were also considered. It was agreed that countries such as Sri Lanka, which have strong health and educational indicators, are able to carry out pilot campaigns for evidence collection and policy testing and, thereby, offer leadership in the fight against AMR. Supported by wide-ranging academic expertise from within the University of York, this collaborative work can deliver new global standards for transparency in policy design, implementation and evaluation in public and administrative engagement, and multi-lingual communication that will underpin new, inter-sectoral coalitions that will produce strategies adaptable to meet the needs of diverse polities and societies.

High Commissioner Visit to CGHH

(L-R: Suranga Dolamulla; Sam Cooray; Her Excellency Amari Wijewardane; Sanjoy Bhattacharya; Ben Walker; Sarah Hartley)

Further meetings followed in the afternoon, over a lunch hosted by Professor Karen Mumford, Associate Provost (Asia & Oceania), which was attended by the Heads of the Departments of History, Health Sciences, and English, as well as Directors and senior representatives of research Centres, at the University of York. The importance of inter-disciplinary research in creating tools for policy reform, especially in the health sector, were discussed, and longer-terms plans for collaborations between Sri Lankan government and University of York departments were agreed. In this regard, there was agreement that space would be provided to senior national Health Ministry officials, so that they can access new research skills and global networking opportunities. It is planned that this exciting collaboration will be funded by a combination of government support and joint applications for external funding, building on the Sri Lankan government’s visionary policy of providing funded overseas training to all its senior health administrators and other health care specialities. These partners will come together to promote joint international action in association with significant players such as the World Health Organization and other United Nations agencies. All this collaborative work will promote democratic involvement in international and global health initiatives, where developing countries and their diverse needs are assessed and served in their own terms. Such inter-sectoral action is crucial at a time when the UN is advocating the global adoption of a general set of Sustainable Goals, which need to be re-adapted country by country, and locality by locality, if this work is to be impactful and of lasting value.

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