Sri Lanka Annual Academic Sessions Update

The Association of Sri Lankan Neurologists (ASN) held its 11th Annual Academic Sessions in November 2017 at the Cinnamon Grand, Colombo, under the theme of Neurology for Tomorrow. Prof. Raad Shakir, president of the World Federation of Neurology (WFN), was the chief guest at the Welcome Ceremony, and Prof. Man Mohan Mehndiratta, president of the Asia Pacific Stroke Organization (APSO), was the guest of honor. The Association of British Neurologists (ABN) was represented by an official ABN delegation.

Procession of guests at the Welcome Ceremony.

Prof. Shakir delivered the opening plenary on global neurology challenges. The JB Peiris Oration was delivered by A/Prof. Udaya Seneviratne from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. The overseas faculty consisted of 19 speakers from Australia, India, Pakistan, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and was complemented by the local faculty. The academic program spanned three days and had a strong emphasis on new advances in neurology.
Two half-day symposia were held on movement disorders and stroke. The other topics covered included epilepsy, demyelinating diseases, neurological infections, CNS vasculitis, neurology and sleep, neurology of autonomic dysfunction, eye movement disorders, myasthenia gravis, neuroplasticity, and neurorehabilitation.

Two post-lunch quizzes tested the neurology knowledge of participants and provided light entertainment in between the intense academic deliberations. A guided poster tour was introduced at the Annual Sessions, and provided young researchers a good opportunity to showcase their research. A parallel workshop on EEG was conducted for EEG technologists.

Prof. Udaya Ranawaka, ASN president, delivers the Welcome Address.

The Association of Sri Lankan Neurologists is still a fledgling organization, being only 10 years old, but remains strongly committed to the promotion of continuous education. It has held successful annual meetings every year over the last 10 years. Its membership is scattered rather thinly across the country, with only 41 neurologists serving 21 million people, with less than one neurologist per 500,000 population. During the calendar year of 2017, academic activities were conducted in eight of the nine provinces of the country, with a view to promoting professional development among those serving in the peripheries. In addition, monthly updates were held in the city of Colombo, primarily aimed at the postgraduate trainees in internal medicine and neurology.

The Annual Academic Sessions are the pinnacle of the academic activities of the ASN. The 2017 sessions went a long way toward meeting the key objectives of the ASN, of promoting continued education and training, fostering research, and facilitating networking and exchange of ideas. The social programs (the Welcome Ceremony, President’s Dinner, and the ASN Banquet) provided time for networking, camaraderie, as well as building and strengthening friendships. We hope these will lead to closer collaborations between the ASN and its friends across the globe, and ultimately improvements in neurological care in Sri Lanka.

Prof. Udaya K. Ranawaka, MD, FRCP, FCCP, FAAN, FAHA, is professor of neurology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, and was the president of the Association of Sri Lankan Neurologists in 2017.