My dear friend and mentor Dr. Gamini Karunanayake passed away on 20th May, 2008, leaving a void which would be difficult to fill. He was a person of rare calibre and a devout Buddhist. His remains were cremated at Kanatte according to Buddhist rites on 21st May, 2008.
He was born at Uduwara in the Kalutara district on the 3rd October, 1936 and lived at No. 08, Stafford Avenue, Colombo 05. He hailed from a respectable family. He entered Holy Cross College, Kalutara and later had his education at Ananda College, Colombo.
Dr. Gamini Karunanayake has been my friend since 1967 when he joined the Ceylon Transport Board as a Medical Officer. He continued in this capacity till he was promoted to the post of Chief Medical Officer in the year 1975.
While holding this position, he was appointed Director of Health Services and later the Chairman of the National Transport Board Medical Institute, Nugegoda. He
Was also board member of the National Transport Commission.
He was a member of the National Committee for the Prevention of Accidents in the Ministry of Health. In addition, he was a member of the National Road Safety Council, and authorised Medical Officer for the Breathalyzer test to check drunken drivers (for the Sri Lanka police).
He served in the Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps as a volunteer. All these posts were held by him till he retired in 1996. After considering his performance and good work, the cabinet extended his services further.
The Medical Institute (CTB) at Nugegoda (now the National Transport Medical Institute) which served only CTB employees was expanded during his tenure of office to cater to the general public. All heavy vehicle drivers had to undergo medical fitness tests at the NTMI. Drivers involved in serious road accidents were also examined to ascertain their mental and physical fitness. Unsuitable drivers were examined by a medical board and certified accordingly. The TMI was accepted as the recognised authority to give advice on industrial health and transport medicine to state and private enterprises.
The bill in parliament to establish the National Transport Medical Institute was based on the work programme of the Transport Medical Institute, which was initiated by him. Under his administration, the TMI was a self-supporting institution doing national service.
He has addressed several public seminars and written several scientific articles on the following subjects:
1. Driver medical fitness;
2. Human factors in road traffic accidents and
3. Harmful effects of vehicle exhaust fumes. Radio and TV interviews were given by him to educate the public.
At the time of his demise, he was the Medical Director (Consultant Physician) at the Park Hospital Private Limited, Park Road, Colombo 05.
I am writing this appreciation with a heavy heart as we have lost a wonderful, sincere person and a loving friend. Dr. Gamini Karunanayake will be remembered by all who had the good fortune to have worked with him and enjoyed his charity and helpfulness.
Our sympathies go out to his beloved wife Chandrani and three children, son-in-law, daughter-in-law and also to all family members.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.
Colombo North Region Transport Board