Commonwealth Medical Association’s (CMA) Triennial Conference,  Colombo 14-16th October 2016

Commonwealth Medical Association’s (CMA) Triennial Conference, Colombo 14-16th October 2016

The CMA Conference Proceedings

Professor Vajira, President of the Sri Lankan Medical Association (SLMA) set a wonderful example of inter-professional collaboration, making the medical conference as inclusive as possible. This relayed a strong message to delegates of the commitment of the Commonwealth to ‘a inclusive Commonwealth’, an agenda highlighted throughout the conference by Head of the Health and Education Unit, Dr Joanna Nurse and the rest of the Secretariat.

A well thought-out and colourful inauguration opened the conference, which was attended by both the President and the Prime minister of Sri Lanka. Delegates were wowed by the Kandy dancers and two very touching and inspiring speeches from both the outgoing CMA President, Dr Sulaiman Juman and the incoming President Dr Vajira Desanaike.

The CPA in collaboration with CASPPER ran a very successful and well-attended morning seminar on the first day entitled, ‘Clinical Pharmacists, Essential Partners or Optional Extras’. The session was packed out and received a lot of attention and discussion from both pharmacists and medics from around the Commonwealth.

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The second CPA seminar of the day was run in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Medical Association (SLMA) and CASPPER on the very topical AMR in a seminar entitled ‘Antimicrobial Resistance – Stronger Together, a Multidisciplinary Approach to a Major Global Threat’. Doctors and pharmacists from Sri Lanka presented data on resistance patterns in both hospital and the community and CASPPER gave an insight into how Australia has tackled AMR.

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The main theme of the conference was Digital Health and the vision of how this could help achieve Universal Health Coverage around the Commonwealth for the first time in history. There were very thought provoking talks from many affiliated organizations and outside sponsors around different aspects of this. One message the CPA was keen to get across was that the technology is only as good as the user and Prof Ian Coombes highlighted that in Australia digitalization of intensive care prescribing and care brought new errors to the system. (Effect of computerised prescribing on use of antibiotics, I D Coombes, et al; MJA Vol 180; Feb 2004, 140 – 141) The danger of pharmacists being stuck behind computer screens clicking buttons to approve orders, taking them away from patients was also discussed and the need for patient- (not computer-) facing clinical pharmacists was reiterated as vital to quality patient care going forwards.

The CPA closed the seminar with a presentation promoting awareness around antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and the Antibiotic Guardian campaign initiated by Public Health England. The CPA also had a stand in the exhibition area with Antibiotic Guardian materials and an iPad for those wishing to make pledge.


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The CPA and other civil society organisations were asked to provide suggested actions to the Colombo Declaration. The CPA added action points around key priorities including AMR, regulation, education and CPD. These were presented at the closing by the CPA President, Raymond Anderson.

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The full declaration with action points will be  available on the Commonwealth Health Hub.

The warm welcome from the people of Sri Lanka, the collaborative spirit of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the inspiring and inclusive attitude of the CMA made for a very successful conference.

Professor Vajira Dissanayake commented, “This is the first time in history that we have had such a declaration, to which so many organisations are signatories and supporting.  This is a unique achievement that we should be proud of. It lives up the theme of the Commonwealth this year, an inclusive Commonwealth. This will shape the global agenda.”

In his closing remarks, Sir Anand Satyanand, Governer General of New Zealand and current chair of the Commonwealth Foundation commented that the Colombo declaration was the ‘start of something revolutionary’.

The Colombo Declaration Press Release “will shape global agenda”

The CPA will work with member organisations to over the next 3 years on the action points agreed upon to help advance the profession in the Commonwealth and improve the health and well-being of all its citizens.

Further information on the conference and programme can be found here:

Coverage of the event in the Sunday Times can be found here: for-coming- years-based-on- colombo-declaration- 212715.html