The Center for leishmaniasis of the Parasitic Disease Research Unit started its journey in 2001and over the last 1.8 decades leishmaniasis activities broadened the scope. Since then the center has continued to grow its expertise in providing diagnostic services, training and research as a leader in the field of leishmaniasis in Sri Lanka.
Leishmaniasis is one of the newly established diseases in the country. PDRU’s center for leishmaniasis is proud to claim the honour of being the pioneers in this field in Sri Lanka. The center continues to train a steady stream of young scientists, medical and paramedical professionals and uncover the ‘unknowns’ that are of critical importance for patient management and prevention of disease spread.
The Center initiated its investigations on leishmaniasis in 2001 with its discovery of the local outbreak in the North-Central Province of the country. A weekly clinic was established with limited resources and space. Initial activities included clinical examination and laboratory confirmation of diagnosis, which was limited to microscopy and culture at the outset.
The patient services, laboratory and the training has now expanded to the level of a Centre for Training, Research and Diagnosis of Leishmaniasis and it is the first such diagnostic and research laboratory established in the country that performs in-vitro culturing, PCR and serological assays that are offered free-of-charge to all patients. The infrastructure and staff training continue to be financially supported through many local and international research grants. Over 3000 patients thus far, who were referred by medical professionals from all nine provinces of Sri Lanka have made use of these services for the confirmation of diagnosis prior to treatment. There are ongoing training programmes on leishmaniasis that are offered to undergraduate, post graduate medical trainees and paramedical personnel. These programmes continue to be made available also ‘on demand’basis to personnel from other institutions such as the Ministry of Health Care and Nutrition, military hospitals and private hospitals.
With a state of the art research laboratory established more recently, the -center continues to support internal as well as external research trainees. These trainees progress onto reading for research degrees such as MPhils or PhDs with dissemination of knowledge world-wide through scientific publications made in journals of high repute.