The Sri Lanka Health and Ageing Study (SLHAS) 1st Conference was held on the 23rd of June 2023, at the Galle Face Hotel, Colombo. Many guests and participants from a wide range of institutions and fields attended this full-day conference, including former Directors of MOH, Deputy Director Generals, Senior Consultants, other ministry representatives, representatives from the World Bank, WFP, WHO, UN, UNFPA and UNICEF, the press, data scientists, interested researchers, civil society and other group representatives (e.g. Law and Society Trust). The deans of University of Colombo and Jaffna Medical Faculties, Professors and lecturers from prestigious local universities and other researchers also attended.
The conference officially commenced with an opening speech by Dr. Ravindra Rannan-Eliya, the Project Director of SLHAS and Executive Director of IHP, and a 10-minute special guest comment by Dr. Lakshmi Somatunga, the Additional Secretary Public Health Services.
Dr Prasadini Perera gave insight into the SLHAS study design, and Nilmini Wijemunige presented findings on hypertension prevalence in Sri Lanka to highlight key parts of the SLHAS study design. An overview of the main points of each parallel session was also presented so all participants had a good grasp of the breadth of research carried out by the SLHAS. The first parallel sessions covered Diabetes, Food and Nutrition, and Quality of Life and Physical Functioning. The second parallel session covered Cardiovascular Diseases, Mental Health, and Tracking COVID, vaccination, testing and public opinion in a time of crisis. The presentations were done by the Principal Investigators, Co-investigators and collaborators of the consortium including researchers from the Institute for Health Policy, Medical Research Institute, University of Peradeniya, University of Colombo, University College London, and other institutions.
All sessions were followed by a discussion with a moderator and pre-selected discussants who were experts in the field, and an interactive Q & A session, where members of the audience shared their experiences and suggestions, and asked questions from the presenter, other panelists and from each other. The presentations and discussions were both dynamic and stimulating for everyone involved.
The conference concluded with an hour-long plenary session headed by Dr. Ravi Rannan-Eliya and moderated by Prof. Vajira Dissanayake, Dean of the Medical Faculty, University of Colombo. The session focused on the future plans of the SLHAS study, open data, data sharing, and collaboration.
The SLHAS is only possible with funding, with SLHAS Wave 1 launched with vital seed funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation / Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the IHP public interest research fund. The SLHAS 1st conference was also sponsored by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
For further information Contact: Dalreen Barthelot, Email: [email protected]
IHP is an independent, non-partisan research centre based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.