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DateLine Sunday, 23 March 2008

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'Going that extra miles is what matters'

Dr. Yamuna Ranaweera bags award for 'Most Outstanding Innovative Physician of the Year 2007:



Dr Yamuna Ranaweera receiving her award

Dual roles, commitment and professionalism; profound labels attached to the lifestyles of many today against the milieu of cultural norms and the struggle against time management but yet the indomitable grows from strength come what may as Dr Yamuna Ranaweera did to clinch the Most Outstanding Innovative Physician of the Year 2007 award recently.

A salute of recognition by the Ceylon College of Physicians in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), to Dr Ranaweera, a consultant physician at the Base Hospital N' Eliya who won the award for making a tremendous impact by infiltrating into the peripheries of the district through the free mega clinics, films, dramas and the many awareness programmes she conducted on the risk factor of Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) and screening programmes for early detection of NCD.

Accolades to her team of doctors and medical staff of high esteem without whom she says she would not have been able to go that extra mile. Having to leave behind the good work she had commenced in the N' Eliya district, Dr Ranaweera now serves as the Consultant Physician at the Negombo District General Hospital having been transferred a month ago.

A mother of two little children, six and two, life has not been one bit easy for her but sheer determination, hard work and commitment helped her make that difference in the profession and simply take the plunge to go that extra mile to help the helpless in the N' Eliya district where the prevalence of suicide using pesticides and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) among the female bearing age, the rising Vascular risk factor, and burn injuries among the epileptics were alarmingly high.

The entire medical staff attached to the N' Eliya Base Hospital at the time were very supportive and very talented too and were ready to improve their communicable skills by participating in the street dramas, short films and awareness programmes in both the Sinhala and Tamil languages . It was a conscientious team spirit that helped me win this award : and even the assistance we received from the mayor, Chandana Karunarartne and the media was much appreciated Dr Ranaweera reiterated.

Stationed at the N' Eliya Base Hospital from 2005 - February 2008 she had also come up with a very innovative concept of the 'Safety Storage Poison Box' which she says proved reasonably effective in the district.

'People in the N' Eliya district have shown to be very impulsive to take poison as it is freely available. 'Dr Ranaweera introduced the concept of the Safety Storage Poison Box with two padlocks and two keys, a key each to be in the possession of the mother and father so that accessibility is minimized.

In the case of those who are susceptible to epilepsy, Dr Ranaweera introduced the concept of a safe fire place on a higher elevation as the tendency to fall during an epileptic fit into the fire place was a common cause of burn injuries in the district.

Due to the extreme cold weather patterns in the district it was common to have a fire place in the foyer of most houses and this too as been an issue in the district. Rheumatic Heart Disease and complicated pregnancies in this region too have been identified and a proper screening system has to be introduced.

Dr Ranaweera hopes to culturally bond the girl child in the district by introducing the concept of 'showing the heart of a girl at menache and compelling that every five years an examination of the girl's heart be done so that at there would be less complications at the time of pregnancy.

'All these new found concepts were well acknowledged. Every district has specific problems and it is the duty of the health care system to identify and uplift the health care of these people', she explained.

Dr. Yamuna Ranaweera proud of her alma mater St. Mathew's Convent and Matara Sujatha initially and latterly Museus College, Colombo has also been a tower of strength probably because she had surprisingly also served in the Sri Lanka Army from time to time since 1995 in the war zone areas which has brought her thus far.

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