Lives of the fellows

Edmund Mendonza Wijerama

b.6 August 1896 d.21 December 1980
LMS Ceylon(1922) MB BS Lond(1929) DTM&H(1930) MD(1933) MRCP(1934) FRCP(1968) FCCP(1971) DSc Jaffna(1980)

Edmund Mendonza Wijerama was born in Kosgoda, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where his father Dirineris Mendonza Wijerama was a proprietary planter and a respected indigenous practitioner ayurvedic). He received his early education at Rajapakse College, Kosgoda, and subsequently at the Royal College, Colombo. His first appointment was as house officer at the General Hospital, Colombo. He then came to Britain to study medicine at University College Hospital, University of London, graduating in 1929 and obtaining his DTM&H the following year. On his return to Ceylon he became medical registrar at the General Hospital, being appointed pathologist the following year. In 1935 he was appointed consulting physician to the hospital and subsequently senior physician, a post he retained until his retirement in 1956.

From 1934-56 he was also lecturer and examiner in the medical school of the University of Ceylon. His wit and wisdom made a great impression on his students, many of whom are now eminent medical specialists.

Wijerama was secretary of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine (Ceylon) in 1935; president of the Ceylon Medical Association (established in 1887) and founder president of the Ceylon College of Physicians which was established in 1967.

During postgraduate studies at UCH he was a contemporary of Max Rosenheim, later Lord Rosenheim [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.394], and they became lifelong friends. In 1969, when president of the College, Max Rosenheim visited Ceylon and Edmund Wijerama, who at that time was president of the new Ceylon College of Physicians. Max Rosenheim addressed the Ceylon College and was elected its first honorary fellow. Soon afterwards, part one of the MRCP(UK) examination was conducted in Colombo - outside the UK for the first time - under the surveillance of the Ceylon College.

From 1969-74 Edmund Wijerama was president of the Ceylon Medical Council. He wrote some 32 papers, 26 of which were published in the Ceylon Medical Journal or its antecedent the Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the British Medical Association. He was editor of the Ceylon branch journal from 1937-39, producing the largest volume (498 pages) in 1938.

He married Anula Adeline Rajapakse in 1932 but there were no children of the marriage. They lived in a beautiful mansion which he bequeathed to the Ceylon Medical Association in 1964. The Colombo Municipal Council recognized his generosity by naming the street, which now houses the national medical association, after him during his lifetime. The house, No 6 Wijerama Mawata, is the headquarters of the Sri Lanka Medical Association and now best known as ‘Wijerama House’.

L Ranasinghe

[Ceylon medical Joumal, 1981,26,no.1,1]

(Volume IX, page 582)

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