Dr. Nimali Wijegoonewardene joined the Community and Health Research Unit in October 2020 as an International Research Fellow, from the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. She graduated as a medical doctor from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo in 2008. In 2014, and completed her Master’s in Community Medicine (MSc) at the Postgraduate institute of Medicine, University of Colombo. Starting her career in Public Health, Dr. Wijegoonewardene worked as an Additional Medical Officer of Health in a highly populated Medical Officer of Health area in the Western Province of Sri Lanka, where she was involved in provision of services related to maternal and child health and prevention & control of communicable diseases. She later worked as a Registrar in Community Medicine at the National STD/ AIDS Control Programme of the Ministry of Health, where she was actively involved in the development of the Prison HIV Prevention, Treatment and Care Policy for Sri Lanka. She also engaged herself in carrying out awareness programmes on HIV prevention for a wide array of population groups including school children, prison inmates, youth, healthcare workers and prison officers. She has contributed to several publications related to HIV prevention, as well.
Dr. Wijegoonewardene obtained her MD in Community Medicine in 2017 from the Postgraduate institute of Medicine, University of Colombo, following which she worked at the Directorate of Mental Health of the Ministry of Health and the Department of Community Medicine of Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo as a Senior Registrar. Prior to joining CaHRU, she worked at the Management, Development and Planning Unit of the Ministry of Health and contributed towards monitoring the implementation of primary healthcare strengthening activities, carrying out the ‘Workload Indicators of Staffing Need’ study for Primary Medical Care Units in Sri Lanka and developing of an updated Vital Signs Profile for Sri Lanka which showcases the primary healthcare performance in the country. During her academic and professional career in Public Health, she has researched, published, trained and conducted presentations on a wide range of public health topics including child sexual abuse, burnout of prison officers, emergency contraception, infant and young child feeding, prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV related stigma and health planning. She is a member of several academic associations in Sri Lanka including the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Medical Association. She performed her duties as the Assistant Secretary and a Council Member of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka during 2017/2018.
While at CaHRU, Dr. Wijegoonewardene intends to improve her knowledge and skills on strengthening primary healthcare through improvement of quality of care, the impact of research on primary healthcare quality and outcomes at the policy level and the applicability of evidence into policy to the Sri Lankan context. She is also developing here research skills in advanced epidemiology and statistics, systematic reviews and meta-analysis, qualitative research and quality assessment tools.