A SHORT HISTORY OF THE SRI LANKA MEDICAL COUNCIL
?Sri Lanka Medical Council? was established by the Medical (Amendment)
Act No. 40 of 1998 when the title was substituted for the ?Ceylon
The Ceylon Medical
Council (CMC) was established by the Medical Council Ordinance No. 24
of 1924. The first meeting of the CMC was held on 22nd June 1925 at
3.00 p.m. in the Colombo Medical Library, chaired by the first
president, Dr. N. Duncan Walker. The other members of the Council were
Doctors J.S.R. Gunawardana, R. Pestonjee, E.A. Cooray, J.O.B. Van
Langenburg, Lucian De Zilva, H.M. Peiris, P.J. Chissel, Frank
Gunasekera and G. Thornton. At this meeting, Dr. Lucian De Zilva was
elected the Vice President and Prof. F.O.B. Ellison, the Registrar.
Council meetings were held in the medical library up to January 1930
when meetings were held in the Board Room of the Medical College. The
clerical and secretarial work of the Council was carried out by the
staff of the Medical College until an office room was provided in the
administrative block of the medical faculty in 1968. An office
assistant and a peon were recruited with a part-time clerk.
1971, the medical faculty requested the Council to vacate its office
for expansion of the library and the Council office was shifted to a
room on the first floor of the CMA (present SLMA) building at Wijerama
Mawatha. The venue of Council meetings then became the Council Room of
the Medical Association. After some time, the Council accepted an offer
of a bigger room at the SLMA House for the payment of a rent of Rs.
55,000 per month to be paid as an advance for five years and this was
tried to construct its own building but could not obtain state land in
a convenient place. A site belonging to the Health Department was
offered in 1999, behind the premises of the Health Department Sports
Club but the architects were of the opinion that the cost for filling
the land would be too high. In 2001, the Council purchased a 17 perch
block of land in extent at No. 31, Norris Canal Road, Colombo 10 and
laid the foundation stone for the building in December that year. The
construction of the building was completed in December 2002 and the
Council moved into the premises in January 2003.
Registration of Practitioners
One of the chief functions of the Council is to register practitioners engaged in providing healthcare.
Colombo Medical College was opened in June 1870 and admitted twenty
five students. They were awarded a diploma of Licentiate in Medicine
and Surgery (L.M.S.). In 1880, the College was named the Ceylon Medical
College and the L.M.S. was registrable with the General Medical Council
of Britain without further examinations.
The Medical Registration Ordinance was passed in 1905 and persons with L.M.S. (Ceylon) were recognized as medical practitioners and
registered to practice medicine and surgery by the Ceylon Medical
College Council (C.M.C.C.). Any person registered in a country which
recognized this diploma was also registered.
The Medical Registration (Amendment) Ordinance No. 36 of 1908 made legislative provision to register apothecaries and estate dispensers
to practice medicine and surgery in the government sector on the
approval of the Principal Civil Medical Officer, the equivalent of the
present Director General of Health Services.
In 1915, the Dentists Registration Ordinance was introduced to register dentists
to practise dentistry. Following the establishment of the
University of Ceylon by the University Ordinance of 1942, the M.B.B.S.
degree and the B.D.S. degree awarded by it were recognized for
registration in place of the L.M.S. and L.D.S. awarded by the College
The Medical Ordinance No. 26 of 1927 makes provision for registration of pharmacists,
and dispensing of drugs and poisons was restricted only to registered
pharmacists and pharmaceutical chemists. There is provision even in the
present Medical Ordinance to register Apothecaries (or Assistant
Medical Practitioners) and Estate Apothecaries as pharmacists.
The Medical Ordinance No. 10 of 1949 makes provision for registration of nurses.
The register of nurses has several parts, Part A for registration of
Female General Nurses, Part B for Male General Nurses, Part C for
Public Health Nurses, who should be registered as General Nurses and
Midwives, Part D for Assistant Nurses, Part E for nurses who practised
for more than three years before the introduction of the amendment and
Part F for nurses who qualified abroad and satisfied the Council that
they possess the knowledge and skill to practise efficiently as a nurse.
were earlier registered under the Midwives Ordinance No. 02 of
1920. Provision was made in the Medical Ordinance of 1924 for the
registration of midwives. Eligibility for registration as midwives has
been restricted to women.
The Medical (Amendment) Act No. 30 of 1987 makes provision for the registration of para-medical Assistants. Persons
who were included in this category are: radiographers, medical
laboratory technologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists,
electrocardiograph recordists, audiologists, clinical physiologists,
speech therapists, chiropodists, dieticians, ophthalmic auxiliaries and
(Amendment) Act No. 40 of 1998 makes provision for radiographers,
medical laboratory technologists, physiotherapists and occupational
therapists to be registered as professions supplementary to medicine, removing them from the category of para-medical assistants.
Medical (Amendment) Act No. 25 of 1946 makes provision for the
temporary registration of medical practitioners when there is a delay
in the award of a degree and subsequent amendment for registration on
other grounds. Medical (Amendment) Act No. 30 of 1987 makes provision
for persons who are employed as medical officers in government service
to be granted registration under Section 31.
Medical (Amendment) Act No. 37 of 1961 makes provision for temporary
registration of medical practitioners, dentists and nurses who are
invited by the government to serve the country. This was amended by the
Medical (Amendment) Act No. 31 of 1997 where registration is
recommended by the Secretary, Ministry of Health, the Director General
of Health Services or a Dean of a medical faculty. Registration is
restricted for a period of twelve months; the skill and knowledge of
the applicant is judged by the Council.
The Medical (Amendment) Act No. 16 of 1965 makes provision for
registration of citizens of Sri Lanka who have obtained a degree or
diploma from a medical school outside Sri Lanka and recognized by the
Council to be registered following a special examination conducted by
the Council and after serving internship. The special examination was
commonly known as the Act 16 exam and is now referred to as the
Examination for Registration to Practise Medicine (ERPM) in Sri Lanka.
Medical (Amendment) Act No. 15 of 1996 makes provision for registration
of citizens of Sri Lanka who have obtained a degree or diploma from a
medical school outside Sri Lanka and recognized by the Council, to be
registered if they were in employment of the Department of Health
Services prior to May 17, 1991.
(Amendment) Act No.23 of 1955 makes provision for provisional
registration of medical graduates to obtain pre-registration experience
by serving a period of internship. It includes ?good character? as a
requirement for registration of a person.
Erasure of Name from the Registers
Medical Registration Ordinance of 1905 also makes provision for erasure
of the name of a registered person, and the Medical (Amendment)
Ordinance No. 26 of 1927 makes provision for erasure on disciplinary
grounds. The procedure for disciplinary inquiries currently applicable
was published in the Government Gazette No. 757/7 of March 10, 1993.
The Medical (Amendment) Act No. 30 of 1987 introduced the requirement for renewal of registration.
Powers of the Council
Medical (Amendment) Act No. 30 of 1987 makes provision for the Council
to enter and make inquiries at recognized universities and institutions
to ascertain whether the courses of study, the degree of proficiency at
examinations conducted for conferment of qualifications and staff,
equipment and facilities provided at such universities and institutions
conform to prescribed standards. If they fail to conform to prescribed
standards, the council may recommend to the Minister to withdraw such
The general duty of
the Council is to protect the public and uphold the reputation of the
profession. The Council does this by maintaining and publishing
registers of qualified persons in different categories to practise each
discipline, by prescribing the standard of education and standard of
medical education, providing advice on professional conduct and medical
ethics and taking action against those who are registered with the
council if it appears that they have become unfit to practise and
exercise the privileges of registration.
PRESIDENTS OF THE SRI LANKA MEDICAL COUNCIL
1. Dr. N. Duncan Walker (June 1925 ?Dec. 1926)
2. Lt. Col C.D. Myles ( June 1927 - Dec. 1929)
3. Dr. J.O.B. Van Langenberg (Dec. 1929-Jan 1930)
4. Dr. R. Briercliffe (Jan. 1930 - March 1937)
5. Dr. S.T. Gunasekara (March 1937 - Sept 1941)
6. Dr. S.F. Chellappa (Sept. 1941 ? Oct. 1949)
7. Dr. W. G. Wickramasinge (Oct. 1949 - Dec. 1953)
8. Dr. J. Kahawita (Dec. 1953 ? Sept. - 1959)
9. Dr. W.A. Karunaratne (Sept 1959 - June 1964)
10. Sir Nicholas Attygalle (June 1964-Dec. 1969)
11. Dr. E.M. Wijerama (Dec. 1969 - Dec. 1974)
12. Dr. S.H.P. Nanayakkara (March 1975-June 1980) 13. Dr. O.R. Medonza (July 1980 - Oct. 1988)
14. Dr. S.A. Cabraal (Oct. 1988 - Sept. 1996)
15. Dr. G.C. Uragoda (Oct. 1996 ? February 1999)
16. Dr.H.H.R. Samarasinghe (June 1999 to date)
VICE PRESIDENTS OF THE SRI LANKA MEDICAL COUNCIL
1. Dr. Lucian d,e Zilva (June 1925 - Feb. 1933)
2. Dr. Frank Gunasekara (Feb 1933 - March 1952)
3. Sir Nicholas Attygala (March 1952 - May 1952)
4. Prof. John R. Blaze (June 1952 - Sept 1957)
5. Sir Nicholas Attygala (Sept 1957- June 1964)
6. Dr. E.M. Wijerama (June 1964 - December 1969)
7. Dr. W.D.L. Fernando (March 1970 - June 1973)
8. Dr. S.A. Cabraal (June 1973 - March 1991)
9. Dr S.M.G.Wijeroonaratne (March I991-July 1992)
10. Dr. W.S.S. De Alwis (July 1992 - July 1998)
11. Dr. Ananda Samarasekra (August 1998 ? to date)
REGISTRARS OF THE SRI LANKA MEDICAL COUNCIL
1. Prof. F.O.B. Ellison (June 1925 - June 1938)
2. Dr. W.C.O. Hill (June 1938 - March 1939)
3. Prof. Milroy A Paul (March 1939 - May 1982)
4. Prof. H V.J Fernando (Dec. 1980 - Sept. 1994)
5. Prof. P.S.S. Panditharatne. (Sept. 1994 ? Feb. 2005)
6. Dr. N.J.Nonis (Feb. 2005 to date)
ASSISTANT REGISTRARS OF THE MEDICAL COUNCIL
1. Prof. P.S.S. Panditharatne (Dec 1993 ? Sept 1994)
2. Dr. N.J. Nonis (July 1999 ? Feb. 2005)
3. Dr. H.M.S.S.D. Herath (May 2005 to date)