When the global pandemic was declared in 2020, and the world disapeared behind closed doors, we knew we had to get some professional help to achieve our L1 Safe and Secure status in Sri Lanka. A timely introduction to Dr. Changa Kurukularatne resulted in us working closely to ensure our health and safety protocols and Covid19 response systems are world class.
Dr. Changa is a Sri Lankan doctor specialising in Infectious Diseases, Tropical Medicine and Internal Medicine with two decades’ clinical experience. He has worked in advisory capacities to various governments and has collaborated with regional and international health entities including the World Health Organization (WHO). He is internationally published in a variety of subjects including COVID-19 and dengue fever, two areas where he is considered a global expert.
Here the indomitable father of 4, tells us a little bit about himself and how he got into this crucial field of medicine.
I was always fascinated with the awesomeness (a word?) of microbes, both in their evolution and their capacity to wreak havoc within another living being. I have had dengue and malaria a couple of times, bad cases of influenza and a few other infections, so perhaps deep down, it’s personal.
Well….. I correct people when they talk about ‘saving the planet’. The planet will be fine, one way or another, with or without us. It is us humans that are at risk. As we encroach more and more of natural habitat, the buffer zone between animals and humans dwindle even more, making it that much easier for zoonotic infections to affect us through non-immune human populations.
Do your best to keep your immune system in good shape the old fashioned way. Don’t mess it up with poisons, chemicals and bad habits. Set it up to succeed - good sleep, good hydration, movement, lots of sunshine, wholesome nutritious food, avoiding toxins, managing stress, and being connected with those who bring you joy, and being engaged in making our world better in one way or another.
Singapore was not my cup of tea. I really missed Sri Lanka… the friends, the people, the frequent gatherings…and of course COVID happened.
The resilience of its people. They have been through so much, and continue to go through so much in ways that don’t meet the eye. Yet they keep going.
My current focus is in several areas. Health and Safety in the travel / tourism industry (so the economy may flourish again soon), starting my own medical clinic, and working to build my own little secret hideaway in the middle of nowhere
Well, there’s stuff that ought not to be printed. From what’s left… I was an amateur bartender at one point, and played in a band… and I am in a Masters basketball league - despite being short and chubby.
How would you describe the word “travel” - what does it mean to you?
To me, travel is the natural state. Stopping / pausing (what others call returning home) is so unnatural. If only I could keep traveling, keep moving… its a minimalist concept I suppose. When my kids and I travel, we just take our go-bags with a couple outfits each, swimwear, laundry soap, toothbrushes and not much else. Once we left for an overnight trip and returned a week later.
What is the first thing you will do when we are out of lockdown properly?
Throw a party and have all my close friends over, and break out some inventive cocktails.
Dr. Changa Kurukularatne is a specialist in Infectious Diseases, Tropical Medicine and Internal Medicine with two decades’ clinical experience. He obtained his Doctorate in Medicine from St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies. Dr. Changa completed his post-graduate training in Internal Medicine at the prestigious Yale University affiliate, Danbury Hospital (Connecticut USA) where he had the honour of serving as Chief Medical Resident and obtained American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) certification in Internal Medicine.
Dr. Changa Kurukularatne pursued his subspecialty interest in Infectious Diseases at the world-renown Ochsner Clinic Foundation (New Orleans) where he continued to excel, receiving the all-institution award for the Fellow of the Year and obtaining his second ABIM Board Certification in Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Changa Kurukularatne has worked as a consultant physician in the United States, New Zealand and Singapore, and has held multiple key leadership positions. He has worked in advisory capacities to various governments and has collaborated with regional and international health entities including the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (Singapore).
Since his return to Sri Lanka, Dr. Changa Kurukularatne has contributed his vast experience in outbreak management locally towards the Government’s and the private sector’s response and management of COVID-19. He is the creator of the outdoor screening concept for COVID-19 (the Peramaga Project) endorsed by the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka and implemented in government hospitals islandwide. Dr. Changa Kurukularatne is internationally published in a variety of subjects including COVID-19 and dengue fever — two areas where he is considered a global expert.