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Prof. Carlo Fonseka: A warrior of humanity

Friday, 13th of September 2019

With the obituary of Prof. Carlo Fonseka his great service came into talk, this marks a brief account on his life and the service. Born on the 3rd of March in 1933, Chiththalage Carlo Kashmiyar Fonseka was the eldest of the family of four children. Being the child of Alice Fernando and George Fonseka, he had his early education in Maris Stella College Negombo and later joined St. Joseph’s College Colombo. Marking the beginning of his higher education, he followed the path of his father who was also a doctor.

In 1955 he was selected to the medical faculty of Colombo and performed well graduating with a first class in his MBBS degree. After completing the degree he started his work to serve the people by joining as an intern professor K. Rajasuria and senior surgeon Dr. Noel Bartholomeusz in the Colombo General Hospital. Later he joined the base hospital in Mirigama, which was close to his home village as a medical officer. In 1962 he joined the University of Ceylon as a lecturer in the Department of Physiology. He joined the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in order to pursue his doctoral studies and obtained the Ph.D. in 1966.

In 1967 he returned the University of Ceylon’s Department of Physiology. During the time span of and 1989 he was occupied as a professor at the department. As prof. Fonseka as the first dean in the process of nationalising The North Colombo Medical College (NCMC) and a private medical school were combined together and was named as the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya in 1991. He served there till 1997. He was appointed the chairman of the Board of Management in the University of Colombo’s Postgraduate Institute of Medicine from 1996 to 1997 and again from 1998 to 2001.even after the retirement he was appointed as a professor in the university of Colombo as well as Kelaniya who knew the value and knowledge of Prof. Carlo.

In January 2012 he was appointed as the president of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) but the Sri Lanka Medical Faculty Students› Action Committee stood against the decision supposing that it was politically influenced. Though he was to hand over the office in 2016 the government extended the time and his occupation ended in June 2017. He was marked as a rebellious character from the young age and he was an active member of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) which was based on the Trotskyist ways.

His political interest made him the sales representative and was responsible in delivering of the paper Sama Samaja Party, in the Negombo area. While being the president of the SLMC he criticized South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) a private medical school and when he left the SLMC Fonseka claimed he fought alongside the students to force the government to find solutions for the issue. He raised his voice in the battle; stating that it was his last voice to be heard in a battle and so it was.

During his lifetime he has served as president of the Arts Council of Sri Lanka, chairman of the Vijaya Kumaratunga Memorial Hospital, chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol and was a member of the University Grants Commission. He was one of six South-East Asia Region awardees of the World No Tobacco Day 2012 Awards. Prof. Carlo was well known in the society and among people as a fighter against the set social norms to promote humanity.

With the steel characteristics that were visible on the outside his softer side which was influenced by the many artists including Sunil Santha, came to light with him composing and writing songs which came out as albums which includes Carlochita Gee (1992) and Raththaran Duwe (2006). After serving the country for a long time he finally found peace on the 2nd of September 2019 when he was aged 86. Even after death he did not forget to make himself useful and according to his final wish, his body was handed over to the Ragama medical faculty.

-Madhusha Dep-

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