In early 2001, a group of Medical Specialists with some prominent people from the corporate sector had a discussion with regard to the burden on society of those who get inflicted with Stroke. They discussed the following issues :

Stroke is a major health problem. It causes significant mortality, being the third leading cause of in-hospital deaths in Sri Lanka, after heart disease and cancer. The major impact of stroke on society, however, is largely due to the residual disability and dependency it creates. It is the most important cause of adult disability, and half of the survivors are fully dependent on others after a stroke.

The group was unanimous of the need to improve the quality of stroke care delivered in order to minimize the burden of stroke. This could be achieved by optimizing acute management of patients with stroke to minimize the resultant disability, improving the rehabilitation services to enable patients to lead independent lives despite the functional impairment, and implementing strategies aimed at stroke prevention.

The group further realized the clear need to develop a comprehensive stroke service, aimed at improving all aspects of stroke care. This could evolve around a stroke unit, which can serve as a hospital based focal point of service and expertise. If a stroke unit can be established in each province, a stroke service can be developed to serve the entire province. The service should not remain hospital bound, but must reach the community it serves. This is essential if preventive strategies such as educational programmes are to be successful. Community participation is vital in this context, and therefore formation of self-help groups could be of immense value. Community based groups and volunteer organizations already in existence and involved in other activities can be utilized.

In order to take forward the above proposals the group unanimously decided to set up a Stroke Association bringing together medical and non medical people committed to improving stroke care. Such a body will be able to harness the managerial skills of the non medical professionals to take the stroke service to the community and to ensure community participation, to develop educational campaigns, and to raise and manage funds. The Association will also be a meeting point for stroke victims, their families and caregivers and health care professionals.

In accordance with these decisions the National Stroke Association of Sri Lanka was launched with its Inaugural Meeting on the 14th January 2001 at the Lionel Memorial Auditorium of the Sri Lanka Medical Association with a very distinguished gathering in attendance.

The Founding Office Bearers were :

PATRON Dr J B Peiris
PRESIDENT Dr Jagath Wijesekera
VICE PRESIDENTS Dr Lalith Wijayaratne
Mr Rienzie T Wijetilleke
Mr Ranjit Fernando
SECRETARY Dr Udaya Ranawaka
ASST. SECRETARY Mrs Rosanna Warnakulasuriya
ASST. TREASURER Mr Ranjit Fernando
Mrs Mallika Manuratne
COUNCIL Mr Tissa Bandaranayake
Mr Prema Cooray
Dr Lucien Jayasuriya
Prof. Rezvi Sheriff
Dr P N Thenabadu
Dr Preethi Wijegunewardena
Dr Mahen Wijesuriya