Handing over of the Jayam Wijayaratnam Cancer Care Centre to the Health Ministry – The Island.lk

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“It was my husband’s dream to build a hospital for cancer patients in Negombo. We lived in Colombo, as I still do, but spent much time in Negombo. What Jayam noted was the absence of such a hospital or even OPD services between Maharagama and Puttalam, a distance of more than 150 km. Hence his dream of donating a fully built hospital for cancer patients. Very unfortunately Jayam died suddenly on January 18, 2013.”
On July 8, 2022, the late Jayam Wijayaratnam’s altruistic dream came true; his wife Yogeswari with Trustees – Radhika Coomaraswamy and Kavan Ratnayaka of the Jayam Wijayaratnm Trust – handed over the fully built and functional hospital and care centre to Health Ministry Secretary – Mr Janaka Sri Chandragupta who had signed the MoU; Director General of Health Services – Dr Asela Gunawardena and Director, Colombo North Teaching Hospital – Dr Sampath Ranaweera who would be Director of the J W Cancer Care Centre. Present also were architect of the Centre – C Anjalendran and Contractor – L B Ranjit; and Oncologist Dr Sujeewa Siyambalapitiya who would be in charge of the Centre; plus invitees.
The handing over ceremony started at 10 a m with Yoga welcoming all present and also thanking everyone involved in the project. A symbolic brass key on a wooden base was handed over by Yoga to the three medical personnel, and received by Dr Ranaweera. Mr Janaka Sri Chandragupta and Dr Asela Gunawardena addressed the gathering on behalf of the Ministry of Health and medical personnel present, thanking Yoga and others who worked and bequeathed this excellent hospital. Architect Anjalendran thanked all those who dedicatedly worked on site and built the hospital he designed, more particularly Builder Ranjith and Supervisor Nisantha. Radhika Coomaraswamy proposed the vote of thanks after which refreshments were served and visitors walked around the building.
Yoga told me when I visited the site with her when it was nearing completion in January 2022 that she had gone to the health authorities in Negombo with her proposal but it was the Ragama Health Officers who had gladly accepted her generosity and facilitated the project becoming a reality by offering her a good block of land on Siriwardhena Road, Ragama.

The J W Cancer Care Centre is unique and totally functional, a modern hospital in a village setting as noted by C Anjalendran, the day I visited the site. Being a rural hospital was fulfilling a requirement of the country. “Patients should be able to see the sky even when they lie abed, and enjoy a subtle feeling of freedom. So this was an overriding principle in the design. This hospital is unconventional in its shape too; it is not a perfect rectangle as most hospitals are. It takes the shape of the site on which it is built. A large open courtyard emphasizes the airiness and sense of not being closed in.”
The completed hospital is just this and has the added features of plants growing healthy in its central courtyard and around it. The wards are not of the usual pattern. They are broken up into rooms accommodating eight patients each with adjoining fine toilets and bathrooms. These ‘wards’ are on the two sides of the central court and replicated on the first floor. Restrooms for the medical and nursing staff are plentifully provided. Nurses living quarters have been constructed on the premises.
Yoga told me soon after the handing over that she insisted an auditorium be included in the building. “It is to conduct awareness programmes among other meetings since cancer can be cured if detected early enough. Local people and from distances can be invited to awareness creating programmes. A ward has been reserved for palliative care of terminally ill patients and so a family member of each patient is also given accommodation in the ward.” These are additional boons offered in memory of a wonderful person – Jayam Wijayaratnam – since
An individual doesn’t get cancer, a family does”
“My fervent hope is that the hospital will be maintained well.” This Yoga was insistent about. From what we have heard about most hospitals now, maintenance hygienically and with concern for patients is given attention.In these tumultuous times caused principally by self-serving, corrupt politicians, this endowment to the Ministry of Health on behalf of cancer patients, thought of by the late Jayam Wijayaratnman and accomplished by Yogeswari Wijayaratnman assisted by others, is a heart warming beam of joy and hope
Philanthropy isn’t all about money; it’s about feeling the pain of others and caring enough about their needs, to help.”(Timothy Pina).


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By the National Science Foundation
Sri Lanka is facing perhaps the most difficult and challenging economic, political and socially decisive times in its peacetime history, marked by depletion of foreign exchange reserves and government revenue, and a sovereign debt crisis. The crisis has had a devastating impact on the lives of the people, and its magnitude and potential demand immediate remedial action to ease the painful burden on the general public. The current crisis is principally due to the lack of a rational, consistent and coherent national policy, besides several decades of mismanagement of the economy. Recent events, such as the Easter Sunday bombings and the Covid-19 pandemic, have exacerbated the situation, with escalation of the Ukraine-Russia conflict and accompanying rises in food and fuel and shortages in world market, posing further threats.
Thus, there is an urgent need to get on with medium to long-term steps to resurrect the economy while providing essential immediate relief to the victims of the unprecedented crisis. We should recognize that the current monetary problems of the Government and the sufferings of the people are symptoms of a deeper malaise in the real economy. It is of paramount importance to correctly determine the causes of the malaise in order to overcome the prevailing lackadaisical attitudes and attend to the real economy and its determinant factors.
Science and technology (S&T) is the prime driver of and key to development in the three main sectors of the economy, namely Agriculture, Manufacturing and Services. Hence, the National Science Foundation, the premier national institution mandated to promote S&T for the socio-economic development of the country and wellbeing of its people, has assembled a team of senior scientists, technologists, professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders in the country with expertise and experience in the relevant fields to deliberate on the state of the economy and ways to overcome the crisis and rebuild the economy through immediate, short- and medium-term interventions. They are indicative of direction. Details have to be worked on in the process of implementation.
Overarching and sector-specific recommendations that emanated from the deliberations are presented below for due attention of and action by the relevant authorities.
(A) Overarching recommendations
1. Immediate adoption of an evidence-based policy-making approach
Political expediency rather than economic imperatives has driven national policies since independence, making them ad hoc and aimed to address short-term issues, superficially, in order to secure and consolidate political power at the cost of long-term damage to the economy. Where foreign aid was involved, policies tended to be donor-driven and top-down with minimal local stakeholder consultation, lack of transparency and inadequacy of safety nets. Lack of coherence and cohesion of policy, policy uncertainty and policy instability are factors that inhibited FDI for economic development as investors look to consistency in policy regardless of change of government. Hence the following are of prime importance:
Evidence-based policy formulation drawing upon scientific and professional knowledge and experience available in the country.
Appointment of a high-powered multi-disciplinary advisory body comprising competent members from relevant institutions, such as the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), National Science Foundation (NSF), Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS), National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Research Council (NRC) and National Innovation Agency (NIA) as well as from relevant professional bodies, academia and industry.
2. Introduction of STEAM education in schools
Introduction of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education in schools is important to provide students with crucial future-ready skills and an array of new career possibilities. Integrating enterprise and entrepreneurship programmes into the concepts of STEAM education will enable students to critically analyze problems and create real-world applications leading to business start-ups and wealth creation. Thus, STEAM education constitutes the bedrock of industrial growth and sustainable economic development, and it should be incorporated into the national school curriculum without delay.
3. Infusion of science and technology to development
Sri Lanka spends only about 0.1% of the GDP on R&D and its high-tech exports account for only about 1% of total exports, which are abysmally low compared with those in most of the countries even in Asia. Hence, the following are crucially important to set the country on an upward trajectory of development:
i. Increase expenditure on R&D up to 1% of GDP over the next five years.
ii. Bring all R&D and allied institutions which are currently compartmentalized and scattered across several ministries on to one platform or coordinated network, thereby facilitating transformation of inventions into innovations and developing multidisciplinary value chains for commercial and social benefit.
iii. Bring all R&D institutions under the Sri Lanka Scientific Service in order to advance the cause of science for national development. Personnel from any other service or profession can be coopted as and when necessary and relevant.
iv. Build capacity and capabilities in product design engineering (PDE)
Most high-income economies have a strong PDE and manufacturing company base. Well known high revenue PDE companies such as Toyota, Volkswagen, Apple and Boeing drive national economies through high-tech exports. They are not R&D companies, but relentlessly customer-focused PDE companies which use commercially available technologies (e.g. carbon fiber cloth, high-strength aluminium, computer chips, sensors etc.) “to design and certify a product once, and build and sell millions” to customers worldwide. Sri Lanka has only a few successful PDE companies such as Lanka Transformers, Neil Marine, and Orange Electric. This narrow manufacturing base should be expanded as a matter of high priority through introduction of PDE-based economic growth policies and production of mechatronics product design engineers. This will pay rich dividends in the medium term.
v. Establish dedicated recycling industrial facilities to transform Sri Lanka from a linear to circular economy thereby ensuring zero waste and eco-friendly development.
vi. Establish a conducive and enabling environment for research by eliminating impediments to international cooperation, granting tax incentives for R&D including advanced laboratory equipment and introducing a green channel to expedite the funding and procurement processes related to R&D.
vii. Establish a mechanism to productively utilize all national R&D facilities and resources to address national R&D needs and channel solutions and innovations emanating from such efforts for national development through a smooth and cohesive value chain.
3. Export facilitation and prudent utilization of foreign exchange
i. Negotiations with bi-lateral and multi-lateral organizations and appropriate global funding organizations to attract investment with high ROI.
ii. Use of foreign exchange especially targeted to meet the essential needs of high priority areas such as agriculture, food, energy, pharmaceuticals and raw materials for industry during the crisis phase.
iii. Facilitation and promotion of import substitution industrialization and export-oriented industrialization (i.e. rubber products, coconut related products, electronics and electrical components, boat and ship building, food and beverages, including engagement in specific segment/s of the global manufacturing value chain etc. paying attention to core competencies and competitive advantages.
iv. Introduction of a new export development plan under the aegis of the Export Development Board incorporating incentives and mechanisms to fast track export processes, paying special attention to value addition and market potential.
v. Setting floor prices for commodity exports to avoid under-invoicing and over-invoicing of imports
vi. Introduction of a mechanism to buy pawned gold when auctioned by local banks to prevent it from being lost to the country through various channels, thereby enhancing the national gold reserve
4. Governance, procurement, productivity and efficiency
The following are proposed to deal with the key issues and maladies due to poor governance
.i. Introduction of e-governance in a way that ensures transparency, which will enable cost effectiveness and improved performance of SOEs
ii. Mandatory publishing of financial accounts of all SOEs, along with the audit queries of the Auditor General and the responses thereto with provision for people to raise questions and suggestions about their performance on the respective websites or a dedicated website for government accounts
iii. Strict and regular monitoring and evaluation of progress of major and medium-sized public projects using governance scorecards. Public sector institutions should publish data on physical and financial progress and the impact of projects in electronic and print media at appropriate times in order to enable public scrutiny. Names of all key officials including the minister and secretary in charge should also be given. The Ministry in charge of the subject of Planning and Project Implementation should be adequately staffed with competent persons to carry out the above task assessment effectively and meaningfully.
iv. Introduce a whistleblower policy so that any corruption or fraud can be promptly investigated and appropriate action taken irrespective of the position and rank held.
v. A Central Agency should be immediately set up for review of all public expenditure. Efficiency and productivity processes should be set in motion in public institutions with the immediate introduction of performance management systems.
vi. All ministers should have an expert advisory body including specialists and policy analysts to advise them on crucial decision making. The NSF along with relevant institutions can propose the composition of such an advisory body for the ministries relevant to S&T.
vii. Appointment and recruitment to key positions in public sector institutions and statutory bodies should be strictly based on merit without exception. Moreover, there should be no more MP’s or Minister’s list when filling public vacancies which are tantamount to a violation of fundamental rights.
5. Value chain approach to development
A value chain deals with the full range of activities that are required to bring a product or service from conception, through the intermediary phases of production, to delivery to final consumers, and final disposal after use. This is a holistic and integrated approach needed to achieve success of any enterprise. However, most of the interventions in Sri Lanka have been made in an ad hoc and piecemeal manner resulting in lackluster performance in practically all sectors of the economy which comprises almost 50 main clustered areas of production. Analysis of the already available data will show areas with high growth potential. Therefore, it is proposed to establish a “Value Chain Task Force” for formulation of a comprehensive development strategy and mechanism along with an action plan for the high-priority, high-impact interventions needed at this critical juncture with the participation of the key stakeholders.
6. Inclusiveness and competent youth representation
Inclusive political participation is not only a fundamental political and democratic right but also is crucial to building stable and peaceful societies and developing policies that respond to the specific needs of younger generations. It is essential that young people are engaged in formal political processes and have a say in formulating today’s and tomorrow’s policies in order to make a difference in the longer term. For young people to be adequately represented in political institutions, processes, and decision-making, and in particular in elections, they must know their rights and be given the necessary knowledge and capacity to participate in a meaningful way at all levels. Therefore, inclusion of adequate youth representation in an appropriate manner in all institutions in the political, social, economic and technological fabric of the country should be ensured. (To be continued)
Prof. Ranjith Senaratne, Chairman, National Science Foundation and former Vice-Chancellor, University of Ruhuna Dr. Sepalika Sudasinghe, Director General, National Science Foundation and Visiting Professor in Management, Management and Science University of Malaysia Desamanya M.D.D. Pieris, former Secretary to the Prime Minister and several ministries and currently serving on some professional bodies and committees
C. Maliyadde, Vice President, Sri Lanka Economic Association and former Secretary to several ministries
H.M.G.S. Palihakkara, former Foreign Secretary, Ambassador and former Governor, Northern Province.
Dr. Chandra Embuldeniya, Chairman, Technology Development and Innovations Arm of the NSF, Founder, Vice-Chancellor, Uva Wellassa University, and Past President, The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka
Prof. A.K.W. Jayawardane, Senior Professor in Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Chairman, Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC and former Vice-Chancellor, University of Moratuwa
D.K RAJAPAKSA BSc (Hons) Ceylon, Emeritus Managing Director DSI Samson Group (Pvt.) Ltd
Dr. P.A. Kiriwandeniya, Founder of SANASA Movement
Rizvi Zaheed, BA Hons. MBA, Chairman, Sri Lanka Agripreneurs’ Forum
Professor Saroj Jayasinghe, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, University of Colombo
Prof. Ajith de Alwis, Senior Professor of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Moratuwa and Chief Innovation Officer (Actg.), National Innovation Agency
Is it because of the fact that the pet owners in most cases, while selecting the breeds, are ignorant about the temperament of the animal they bring home.
SNS:An 82-year-old woman was fatally attacked by her pet dog in India recently. He suffered grave bite injuries in her abdomen and neck and died during treatment at a trauma center in Qaiserbagh area of Lucknow on Wednesday. This unfortunate incident raises a lot of questions on why pets attack the very owners who train and raise them.
Is it because of the fact that the pet owners in most cases, while selecting the breeds, are ignorant about the temperament of the animal they bring home. Also, people who live in close proximity with aggressive pet breeds are not well equipped with knowledge about the special training needed for breeds like Pit Bull. In the above incident the dog of the said breed, attacked its owner to death.
Dog care and training go hand-in-hand. Even if you consider your dog as your family member, you cannot turn your back to the fact that it is, after all, an animal and would behave in a certain manner. Some dog breeds are considered to be aggressive and they require special training. In certain cases, people love to own fancy dog breeds as a ‘fashion-statement’, while they don’t pay much attention to the special care these breeds require. It is entirely not about the breed of the dog; it is about proper care and training. Many breeds have special training requirements.If you wish to bring home a pet and make it your family member, you must keep certain things in mind:
Dogs are social
Dogs of all breeds are some of the most social animals. They have excellent ‘people-skills’ and they love to be surrounded by other animals and humans. The more they interact with people, the better their mind functions and they remain calm and composed.
According to a research-based article, Dogs Supporting Human Health and Well-Being: A Biopsychosocial Approach, “Through the processes of domestication and natural selection, dogs have become adept at socializing with humans.”
In reality, it is discouraging to see most people keeping their pet dogs confined to a particular area, away from people. Such dogs become very tired of their solitary state and tend to develop an overtly aggressive behavior.
Treat them well
Dogs require special treatment at times. Once domesticated, they must be allocated a particular place and their boundaries must be defined for them. Catering to their needs is considered as a motivating action and dogs are very reciprocative to the ones who treat them well.
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), “The safest and most effective way to treat an aggression problem is to implement behavior modification under the guidance of a qualified professional. Modifying a dog’s behavior involves rewarding her for good behavior so you’ll likely be more successful if your dog enjoys praise, treats and toys.”
Proper training
Training is very important especially if you live with a dog breed which is considered aggressive. The root cause of any untoward incident involving a dog is; human behaviour itself. The very concept of being a “dog lover” is misconstrued. Domesticating an animal is against its very basic nature, which is meant to behave untamed. With proper training by a certified dog trainer, the behavior of the dog can be mended according to the domestic surroundings. It is just like sending your kid to school. It is for their and your benefit. A well-trained dog would know about the areas where they are allowed inside the house and how to conduct themselves.
According to Importance of Puppy Training for Future Behavior of the Dog, published in Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, “Adequate socialization is necessary for producing a well-balanced and well-adjusted dog.”
Some important tips to keep in mind:
Always keep the dog in a well-ventilated and cool area of the house
Make sure the dog has access to drinking water at all times
Do not keep the dog leashed or confined at all times
“Potty-training” is must
If you take your dog out for a walk, always carry a “poop scooper” with you
Let your dog meet your friends, relatives and acquaintances
Most dogs love kids, let them near the little-ones
Make sure your dog understands and responds to your commands
Above all, mend your own behaviour. If you are disciplined, your dog will replicate.
Did you know both Jagdish Chandra Bose and Einstein came up with their great theories while working outside the university system; Ramanujam worked on most of his deductions while working as a clerk in a South Indian post office; Jayanti Narlikar almost touched the Nobel Prize while working in a Western university but on return home did not join a university department; most of the quality research outputs in India are coming from IITs, IIS and similar institutions and not from the universities? Why? The answer lies in the fact that our university systems have, by and large, failed to nourish scholarship and academic excellence. They have turned themselves from temples of academic excellence to mere teaching centres without making efforts to build and develop knowledge based on the hierarchy of thoughts. They function as if they are not meant for advancement of knowledge. Higher knowledge is a joint product of direct and indirect cooperation of scientists and seekers of truth all over the world.
By this worldwide cooperative enterprise of a very special kind, the frontiers of knowledge are guarded and extended continuously in all vibrant societies. This is an enterprise in which a university must participate with all its heart and its strength. The principle of universality which belongs to the idea of a university, has to be balanced by what may appear, but only appears, to be an opposite idea. The quest for the universal must be married to a sympathetic interest in what concerns our immediate neighbourhood, what Gandhi and Rabindranath understood by swadesh. While pure knowledge aims at the universal, applied knowledge is concerned with problems at hand. The university must be as open as the sky, yet as close as the nest. This is the spirit that Tagore sought to capture and encapsulate in the motto for his university, yatra visvam bhavatyekanidam. A more moderate slogan, “Think globally, act locally”, carries a similar resonance.
When we talk of science and rationalism, we should be careful that science does not consist in imitating the West or even gaining its condescending applause. It consists rather in a systematic and innovative application of reason for overcoming the problems that we confront. From these facts emanate the idea that the main object of university education should be to produce sufficiently competent teachers, scholars, and researchers. Needless to reiterate, a large number of people should take up productive work of different kinds rather than enroll themselves in the universities. While universities are recognised as producers and distributors of knowledge and are vested with authority to assess and certify the acquisition of such knowledge by those who seek such things, it would be a pretentious folly to imagine that all such knowledge originates within the precincts of universities. The fact of the matter is that traditionally Indian society respects teaching skills more than scholarship or research.
While we emphasize teaching, there is less time for research. When we have less regard for research, we tend to forget about sparing time or effort for contemplation. And when we have no time for contemplation, naturally there is the dearth of ideas, thoughts, or philosophy. The result is before us. Gone are the days when people used to define “professorship” as a position where the incumbent was supposed to profess knowledge and wisdom. Today, it has rather become a capacity to ingratiate and politicize one’s activities and alliances. Today we have allowed all kinds of non-academics ~ politicians, bureaucrats, past criminals ~ to rule the university bodies.
Since the 1960s, AIFUCTO and other teachers’ bodies have entered the arena, but never to raise academic standards. In fact, they have demanded equity between excellence and deficiency in education. We have confused ourselves between campuses and learning, between chairs and knowledge, between degrees and wisdom and between height of position and depth of wisdom. We are in the process of forgetting that the real university is not a material object; it is not a cluster of magnificent buildings; it is far from being a place of organising fanciful seminars. If the temples of learning have lost their credibility, nothing physical has changed. But we are left with only the remains of Nalanda, a two-thousand-year-old institution, and, still, we remember it with pride.
The suggestion is that the real university is a state of mind. It is that great heritage of rational thought process that has been brought down to us through centuries and which does not exist at a sky specific location. It is a state of mind which has been regenerated throughout centuries by the body of people who traditionally carry the title of professor, but even the title is not that part of real university. The real university is nothing less than the continuing and growing body of knowledge. The concept of university may be divided into two parts~ as the basic and the subsidiary in terms of its purpose, and its location and structure. The first part is that which may be defined as a state of mind. The second part is a kind of legal corporation which cannot teach, does not generate new knowledge, or evolve ideas.
It is a legal entity approved by an act of Parliament. It is a non-profit corporation, a branch of government with a specific address. It pays salary and receives grants and responds to all kinds of legislative and other pressures The primary goal of the real university is always like Socrates’ goal, the truth in its all forms as it is revealed by the analysis of reason and ideal of truth itself. Everything else is subordinate to truth. Normally, this goal is in no conflict with the subsidiary university ~ the locational part. The locational goals may be that of improving the citizenry. But conflict may arise when the government and the other funding agencies take points of view in opposition to the prime goals of the real university ~ the search of truth and the advancement of learning based on truth.
Let us look forward to a day in our new India when power worship vanishes from the subsidiary university campuses and the basic university asserts itself. It is a welcome invitation to our real intellectuals, knowledge seekers and worshippers of truth on the campuses to come forward and retaliate against the chaos created by misguided sycophants and opportunists and let the true university establish itself. For three hundred years the British produced clerks and for the last 75 years, we are in the process of producing ignorant, educated incapables. It’s time we rise from our deep slumber, rub our misty eyes, and see the decay on their faces, for no one’s benefit but our own.
(The Statesman/ANN)

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