North Colombo Medical College

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North Colombo Medical College
Type Private
Active 1980–1989
Chairman Prof G. M. Heenilame
Location Ragama , Western Province , Sri Lanka
Affiliations University of Aberdeen

North Colombo Medical College (NCMC) was the first privately funded medical school in Sri Lanka. It started in 1980 with the admission of 100 local and 20 foreign students. The first batch of students began graduating in 1990. Founded by the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka, Dr. G. M. Heenilame was its first chairman and Dr. W.D. Ratnavelle, its first director. It was nationalized in 1989 and became the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya. The first batch of students of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya completed their five-year course and graduated with the MBBS degree in September 1996. [1]

Sri Lanka Island country in South Asia

Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo.

The College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka (CGPSL) is the professional association for general (medical) practitioners in Sri Lanka. Formed in 1969, it was incorporated in 1974 with the incorporation law No. 26 being passed in the Parliament of Sri Lanka. The association does not regulate or certify doctors, a responsibility which lies with the Sri Lanka Medical Council. It carries out education and academic programs in family medicine. From 1980 to 1989 it formed and administrated the first private medical school in the country, the North Colombo Medical College offering its own MBBS degree. Since 1979, it has been publishing the journal of the CGPSL, Sri Lankan Family Physician.

Gankande Muhandiramge Heennilame is a Sri Lankan physician. He is the founder and chairmen of the North Colombo Medical College, which was the first private medical school in Sri Lanka.


In 1979, the College of General Practitioners (CGP) examine the feasibility of establishing a non-profit, fee-levying graduate medical institution as proposed by Dr. G. M. Heennilame which he had been advocating since 1975. Dr Walter Gooneratne and a few others convinced of the feasibility and necessity for a private medical college joined him. In November 1979 the college appointed a Project Implementation Committee comprising Drs Heennilame, Aloysius and Gooneratne “to take all necessary steps to start an undergraduate medical college.”

Between April and July 1980, Drs Sathis Jayasinghe, W D Ratnavale and Shelton Cabraal joined the team. On July 4, 1980 the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka appointed the Board of Governors and director of the North Colombo Medical College. The Board of Governors appointed were Drs Heennilame, Aloysius, Gooneratne, Jayasinghe and Cabraal. Dr WD Ratnavale was appointed director. Dr Stanley Kalpage appropriately described this achievement as “truly a miracle”. After all, when these six persons were appointed, the project had no funds, no office, no staff, nothing in writing about approval and little credibility. Yet within one year and two months on 21 September 1981, the President of Sri Lanka, Junius Richard Jayewardene, ceremonially opened the North Colombo Medical College.

Deshamanya Stanley Kalpage was a Sri Lankan academic and statesmen. He was a member of the Senate of Ceylon, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India (1989–1991) and its Permanent Representative to the UN (1991–1994).

The college placed on record those who helped to make the NCMC a reality, with their encouragement and assistance. These included President J R Jayewardene who, from 1979 till the end of his term of office, provided invaluable support. Dr Stanley Kalpage as chairman of the University Grants Commission (Sri Lanka) and secretary of Higher Education played a similar role. The others who provided assistance included Prof Stanley Wijesundera and the academic staff of the University of Colombo, Dr Malinga Fernando, L H R Peiris, Gamini Jayasuriya, B C Perera and Edward Arambawela.

University Grants Commission (Sri Lanka)

The University Grants Commission (UGC) is the body responsible for funding most of the State Universities in Sri Lanka, and operates within the frame work of the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978, itself established by the Cabinet Minister of Education & Higher Education at the time Dr. Nissanka Wijeyeratne in 1979. A public organisation, established under the Parliament Act No 16 of 1978. Location is at No 20, Ward Place Colombo 07.

Stanley Wijesundera was a Sri Lankan academic. A professor of Chemistry, he was the first vice chancellor of the University of Colombo from 1979 to 1989 and was the chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities from 1983 to 1984.

Since its inception the NCMC came under criticism and opposition of many socialist elements in the island, with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna which had in 1988 initiated an insurrection carrying out a bomb attack on the NCMC administration section in 1988. The Board of Management conferred its own medical degree MBBS (NCMC) instead of the one from the University of Colombo and affiliated itself with the University of Aberdeen. [1]

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Peoples Liberation Front, a Sri Lankan Socialist Party

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, often abbreviated as JVP is a communist and Marxist–Leninist party and political movement in Sri Lanka. The movement was involved in two armed uprisings against the ruling governments in 1971 (SLFP) and 1987–89 (UNP). The movement entered democratic politics by participating in the 1994 parliamentary election as a political party, and has been a third party in Sinhalese Sri Lankan politics since then.

University of Colombo public research university in Sri Lanka

The University of Colombo is a public research university located primarily in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It is the oldest institution of modern higher education in Sri Lanka. Specialised in the fields of natural, social, and applied sciences as well as mathematics, computer sciences, and law. It is ranked among the top 10 universities in South Asia.

University of Aberdeen university in Aberdeen, Scotland

The University of Aberdeen is a public research university in Aberdeen, Scotland. It is an ancient university founded in 1495 when William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen and Chancellor of Scotland, petitioned Pope Alexander VI on behalf of James IV, King of Scots to establish King's College, making it Scotland's third-oldest university and the fifth-oldest in the English-speaking world. Today, Aberdeen is consistently ranked among the top 200 universities in the world and is ranked within the top 30 universities in the United Kingdom. In the 2019 Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, Aberdeen was ranked 31st in the world for impact on society. Aberdeen was also named the 2019 Scottish University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

In 1989, President Premadasa appointed a committee made up of K.H.J. Wijedasa (Presidential Secretary), W.M.P.B. Menikdiwela (Former Presidential Secretary), Ananda Guruge and Bradman Weerakoon to look into the NCMC. Soon after the NCMC was nationalized with the government sending the army to occupy the buildings at Talagolla stating security reasons. Its board was replaced by a Competent Authority, Prof. Carlo Fonseka. He continued as the first Dean when the NCMC was transferred to the University of Kelaniya as its Faculty of Medicine.

Bradman Weerakoon Fmr senior Sri Lankan civil servant

Deshamanya Robin Bradman Weerakoon, CCS is a Sri Lankan civil servant. As a senior bureaucrat of the Sri Lankan government, he served nine Sri Lankan heads of state in a career spanning half a century.

Carlo Fonseka

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Notable alumni

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  1. 1 2 North Colombo Medical College