Although the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka recognised Rheumatology and Rehabilitation as a speciality in the country in 1976, the impetus to form an academic organisation in Rheumatology came only in 1994. With only eight consultant rheumatologists serving in the state sector at the time, a number of extensive discussions were held to finalise a name and formulate a constitution for the association. The logo was designed with the the help of late Dr Lalith Mendis who was the Deputy Director General (Laboratory Services), Ministry of Health, under whom the Rheumatology and Rehabilitation Hospital, Ragama operated during that period.
Finally, the Sri Lanka Association of Rheumatology and Medical Rehabilitation was established in 1997 with 12 members. Its inaugural meeting was held at Hotel Galadari, Colombo in July 1997 and Dr A. Stanislaus, who was instrumental in its inception was unanimously elected the Founder President. The founder committee included Dr. J. V. A. Aryasingha, Dr. (Mrs.) A. N. H. Herath, Dr. (Mrs.) Lilani Weerasekera, Dr. Lalith Wijayaratne, Dr. K. A. N. Gunatillake and Dr. Saman Jayanetti. Other founder members were Dr. Ranjith Talgahagoda, Dr. Themiya Vidyasagara, Dr. Chandra de Silva, Dr. K. Ruberu, Dr. P. Sivanathan.
The name of the association was changed to the College of Specialist in Rheumatology & Rehabilitation Sri Lanka in 2016, 18 years after its inception. A new constitution was adopted in May 2016, along with election of a new council under Dr. Nihal Gunatillake as the President.
Over the years, CSRRSL has contributed immensely to the advancement of the field of rheumatology and rehabilitation in Sri Lanka. The first prospectus for post-MD training in Rheumatology and Rehabilitation of the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM), University of Colombo was
formulated through the CSRRSL and approved and adopted by the PGIM in 2004. Subsequently, the Speciality Board in Rheumatology and Medical Rehabilitation, of the PGIM which currently managers all matters related to postgraduate training in Rheumatology and Medical Rehabilitation was formed in 2010 with the contribution of members of CSRRSL. Furthermore, CSRRSL engages in a number of continuous professional development activities and collaborates with other national, regional and international professional organizations on education, training and research.
CSRRSL has also been instrumental in fostering public engagement and empowerment in relation to rheumatic diseases and medical rehabilitation in the country. The establishment of the Arthritis Foundation in 2004, and the Association of Persons with Rheumatic Diseases, a patient group founded in 2011 in collaboration with the Swedish Rheumatism Association are a few such endeavors.
Wijayaratne LS, The College of Specialists in Rheumatology & Rehabilitation – Sri Lanka; How it came into being, Proceedings of the 10th Annual Scientific Sessions & Inauguration of the College, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka; page 7 – 12.