Dr. Wijaya Godakumbura and the Wonderful Lamp - Sri Lanka Guardian

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dr. Wijaya Godakumbura and the Wonderful Lamp

According to the worldwide statistics over 310,000 people die of burns globally in the world every year and 95% of them occur in developing countries. Annually a large number of patients take inward treatment from the hospitals following bun injuries that are caused by unsafe kerosene oil lamps in Sri Lanka.

by Dr Ruwan m Jayatunge

(September 22, Ontario, Sri Lanka Guardian) When I was working in the Colombo North General Hospital in late 1999 I had an opportunity of listening to a lecture that was delivered by Dr Wijaya Godakumbura . He spoke of an unseen but an acute problem in Sri Lanka. He spoke of burn injuries that occur due to the unsafe kerosene oil lamps.

According to the worldwide statistics over 310,000 people die of burns globally in the world every year and 95% of them occur in developing countries. Annually a large number of patients take inward treatment from the hospitals following bun injuries that are caused by unsafe kerosene oil lamps in Sri Lanka. When the burns are severe often the victims do not survive. Those who lucky to survive live with skin disfigurations for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Godakumbura

In 1992 when Dr. Wijaya Godakumbura was working as the Consultant Surgeon at the Ratnapura hospital and he had treated a large number of patients who sustained burn injuries. Most of these burns were occurred due to unsafe kerosene oil lamps. To end the menace of unsafe lamps he came out with a viable solution. He designed a safe lamp to prevent burn injuries. The wonderful lamp that was invented by Dr. Although the idea of making a safe lamp was simple, the impact was immense. Dr Godakumbur’s 'Safe Bottle Lamp Project' captured the media attention after winning the Rolex Award for Enterprise in 1998 in the 'Science and Medicine' category and the top prize of the global contest 'World Challenge 09' in 2009 conducted by BBC, Newsweek and Shell. Magazines like TIME, Newsweek, Science and Nature, National Geographic, Science, and Reader's Digest are among the many magazines that featured his project. In addition, CNN and BBC World TV and VoA.
aired programs on his work. When he got the Rolex prize money of US$ 50,000 he formed the 'Safe Bottle Lamp Foundation',

Dr. Godakumbura also won a Reader’s Digest Award called 'Hero for Today' in 2000, and three years later a Lindbergh Foundation award. This Foundation appointed him to its Grants Technical Review Committee. He also won three Sri Lankan Awards, viz, Presidential, Vidyajyothi and Sarvodaya, and the magazine 'esteem' named him as one of the 'Icons of Sri Lanka in the 20th century'.

Recognizing his passion and commitment for injury prevention, the Ministry of Health appointed him to the National Committee on Prevention of Injuries and the International Society for Burn Injuries (ISBI) to its Prevention Committee.

At present Dr Godakumbura is the President of Safe Bottle Lamp Foundation and a member of the Grant Technical Review Panel of the Lindbergh Foundation. Tell a Friend

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