Suneth Agampodi

Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible’.’ 

I was born in Galle in Sri Lanka, a beautiful place where all the stress iswiped out by the sound of sea breeze and thousands of ecological feelings. I got my primary education from Mahinda College Galle, Ginigathhena Primary College and Dharmashoka College. Being thankful to free education in my country, I was privileged to complete my higher education at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya. My first appointment as a medical doctor was a major milestone in my life. I was a primary care physician in the rural hospital of Nelubewa and I have engaged with primary care as well as preventive care activities.  

After serving this rural community, I thought of stepping up my carrier in the field of public health. Therefore, I completed my MD in community medicine at the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine in Sri Lanka and my MPH at Massey University in New Zealand.  

In 2008, when a new medical faculty was proposed ‘as an accident’ and at a time in which the faculty was struggling without having qualified teachers, I decided that it is time to take up a new challenge. With my wife’s fashion to teach, changing our carriers from public health practitioners to public health teachers was an easy decision.  

As pioneers of the Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Allied Sciences, at Rajarata University of Sri Lanka we have established a strong multidisciplinary research culture with extensive community engagement. Our work is published in leading international journals from molecular epidemiology to public health. Our work is funded by EngenderHealth, WHO, WHOTDR, NIH AFSP and Rajarata University of Sri Lanka. Through the usual obstacles, administrative barriers and resource limitations in a low- and middle-income country, we built up a place which was considered a ‘crazy’ idea in 2009. At present, we are handling two major public health projects on infectious disease and maternal health. These projects have diverse objectives with involvement of different disciplines such as laboratory scientists, microbiologists, physicians, social scientists, economists and biochemists, together with public health team. With addition of ECLIPSE work our horizons will be expanded to new areas.  

My dream is not only the advancement of public health science, but also to develop public health capacity, a generation of skillful practitioners and researchers with different backgrounds. Not very many people are lucky enough to engage in their hobby as their job and I feel privileged to be one of those lucky people.  At last, the best part of my life, my loving wife who encourages me through this life journey is the role model of most of my students, and the social epidemiologists who is looking after the human and social side of my quantitative research work.