Late Dr Chandana Harendra Mallawarachchi graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya in 2005 with a Distinction in Parasitology and underwent his Medical Internship at the TH Anuradhapura. Post-intern appointments as a Resident House Officer at the TH Hospital Anuradhapura, Senior House Officer at BH Nikaweratiya and Medical Officer at the OPD, BH Mirigama were followed by his enrolment as a PGIM trainee, first to follow the training programme leading to the Diploma in Medical Microbiology and immediately thereafter, the MD in Medical Parasitology. Upon completion of his MD exam in 2019 he underwent his post-MD training as a Senior Registrar at the Departments of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya and the Medical Research Institute and functioned as the Acting Consultant Medical Parasitologist at the Department of Parasitology, MRI until his departure for overseas training at the Norwich Medical School in the UK.
Harendra was a rarity – a doctor who enjoyed the challenge of field work and bench work in the laboratory. When he came to us in Ragama, saying that he wanted to do his MD project with us, it was a pleasant surprise because, so few medics want to pursue a career in Parasitology. But as the months and years went by, we found that it was a great pleasure and a privilege to supervise his MD dissertation. During the 24-month period in which he carried out his MD research project on brugian filariasis, he worked with dedication and exhibited an exceptional ability to combine field-based data collection with bench work in the laboratory. His enthusiasm for research was not confined to his MD project but continued unabated into the post-MD period. Although scientific writing did not come easily to him, he tried hard, and produced many conference papers (national and International) and publications in high-impact international journals, and even won a Presidential Award for Research in 2021. He had an enquiring mind, and as a Senior Registrar, he reported cases of unusual parasitic infections, some of which were first-time reports which may have been missed if not for his research-oriented approach. He had many plans for upgrading the laboratory services at the Department of Parasitology, MRI as well as to conduct research on parasitic infections in the country that has not been investigated in-depth.
All who knew Harendra would agree that he had a pleasant outgoing personality, a person who would go out of his way to help others and share his expertise with any who needed it (AFC technicians, research students etc). He had an exceptional ability to reach out to others and win their hearts. All of us who knew him will recall his ever-smiling face. Virtually every postgraduate trainer in Sri Lanka has had the experience of losing post-MD trainees to greener pastures, but this particular loss is a truly tragic one, not just for his family but for all of us who worked with him. His untimely demise is undoubtedly a loss for the College, the Ministry of Health, and the Medical Parasitology community in Sri Lanka.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!
Prof Nilmini Chandrasena
Prof Nilanthi de Silva