Academic activities

The academic programme at the Department comprises three concurrent programmes/activities:

 1) Undergraduate medical programme;

 2) Post-graduate activities; 

3) Elective attachments for international students                                                                                                                                                               

Undergraduate programme


Curriculum overview 



Lectures are conducted in the third and fourth year of the medical curriculum by the academic staff of the Department and visiting academic staff.

Tutorials/small group discussions:

Tutorials take place in the fourth year of the medical curriculum and train students to apply their knowledge and skills to common community/family medicine problems. The students are divided into four to five smaller groups. The department adopts a case-based learning approach to tutorials where students formulate their intended learning outcomes in a pre-discussion session facilitated by a tutor and present their work in a post-discussion session held at the subsequent tutorials. Students are expected to achieve their intended learning outcomes in the interim period.

Clinical Attachments:

Community Medicine Clinical Attachment

This 8 week attachment takes place during the third or fourth year of the medical programme. During the attachment, students are exposed to the range of preventive/primary care services in the Jaffna District. They will have obtained a working knowledge of the functioning and administration of the preventive health system and associated institutions, including maternal and child health services, communicable/non-communicable disease prevention and control programmes, and state and non-state sector community-based rehabilitative services. In addition, they would have engaged and participated in various health education and empowerment activities taking place at the community level.

The teaching is shared among the staff of the Department, the University Field Project Area (MOH Nallur), and other tutors. The latter are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds, most with relevant expertise in public health or social services. Much of the teaching and many of the course activities take place at the MOH Nallur. Tutors may meet students at their own place of work or accompany students on visits to local organizations.

The attachment is conducted in partnership with several government and non-government organizations/institutions based in the Jaffna District. Government institutions include: Regional Directorate of Health Services (RDHS) Jaffna, Teaching Hospital Jaffna, Chest Clinic Jaffna, Anti-Malaria Campaign Jaffna, Divisional Secretariat Nallur, State Home for the Elders Kaithady, and Water Supply and Drainage Board Jaffna. Among the non-governmental organizations are: Association for Rehabilitation of the Disabled (AROD) Thirunelvely, Cancer Aid for North/ East Hospice (CANE) Chunnakam, Co-operative Hospital Moolai, Jaffna Jaipur Centre for Disability Rehabilitation (JJCDR) Chundikuli, Nuffield School for Deaf & Blind Kaithady, Shanthiham: Association for Health and Counseling Jaffna, Sivapoomi School for Mentally Handicapped Kondavil, and Sivapoomi Elders’ Home, Tholpuram.

Family Medicine Clinical Appointment

This 2 week attachment takes place during the third or fourth year of the medical programme through the Family Health Centre. By the end of the attachment, students will have exposure to an innovative primary healthcare model and gained an understanding of the principles of managing and administering a smaller community-based institution. The teaching is shared by an academic member of staff of the Department and the Divisional Medical Officer (DMO)/ Medical Officer at Divisional Hospital Kondavil. Much of the learning takes place at the Family Health Center. Students also carry out home visits to reach out to vulnerable families and individuals.

Professorial Appointment

This 2 week attachment takes place during the final year of the medical programme. The students visit four divisional hospitals (DH Kondavil, Kopay, Manipay, and Chankanai) and several general practitioner clinics where they obtain skills to identify and manage common medical problems by shadowing medical officers/GPs. These practical sessions are complemented by various learning activities, including problem-based learning sessions, presentations, and scholarly appraisal of academic work. By the end of the attachment, students are expected to be able to manage common medical problems in a primary care setting, and understand the routine administrative work carried out by a primary care doctor. The teaching is shared by the medical officers at the relevant divisional hospitals, GPs, and academic staff of the Department.

Field activities:

Family Attachment

This eight-month group project takes place in the University Field Project Area (MOH Nallur). A family is allocated to each group of  3 students. The students are expected to visit the family as a group, identify relevant socioeconomic and health-related problems, and address them to the best of their ability. The objective is for students to acquaint themselves with social and cultural dimensions of family health, understand the family and community implications of health and health care, and develop communication skills as public health practitioners. Teaching and guidance are provided by a medical sociologist cross-appointed to the Department, other Departmental staff, the public health team, and volunteers from the University Project Area.

Case Studies

Each student is expected to carry out three case studies during the course of the third and fourth years of the medical programme. The case studies cover three key areas in community/family medicine: 1) maternal and child health, 2) communicable diseases, and 3) non-communicable diseases. The case studies are allocated by the public health midwives of the University Project Area, the Medical Officer (Public Health) at Teaching Hospital Jaffna, and staff of the Family Health Centre, respectively. The purpose is for students to understand that health care does not end on discharge of a patient from hospital, and that the home and workplace critically shape the natural history of disease. The students are expected to identify the points at which the health care system failed, and be able to take remedial action to prevent repetition (wherever possible). The students are supported by staff of both the Department and the University Field Project Area.

Field Health Activity

This activity takes place during the course of the third and/or fourth year of the medical programme. Students carry out public health campaigns or health education activities to raise awareness and instigate health behavior change in the community on various common health concerns. While in the past these activities were undertaken individually or in small groups, in recent years, the department has moved towards training students to organize larger-scale public health events. For example, in 2016, the students organized the Provincial Health Fair 2016 to foster awareness among the public on the prevention of non-communicable diseases. In 2018, the students led the organization of Yarl MedEx 2018, a 4-day medical exhibition held in conjunction with the Faculty’s 40th Anniversary celebrations.

Community Residential Rural Health Programme

This three day activity takes place soon after completion of the 2nd Examination for Medical Degrees, before commencement of the final year. Its objective is to enhance teamwork, organization and communication skills among medical students while providing much needed healthcare services to remote, disadvantaged, war-torn communities of the Northern Province. The area is selected on the recommendation of the Provincial Director of Health Services of the Northern Province. Prior to traveling to the area, students are expected to design community-based programmes under the guidance of the public health team working in the area. Each student is allocated 2-3 families and is expected to identify the social, economic and health issues they face. Previous activities have included individual and/or group health education sessions, school medical inspections, and a screening programme for non-communicable diseases.

Research Project:

This is undertaken during the course of the third and fourth year of the medical programme. Students submit their project proposal in the first term of the 4th year, and obtain ethics approval through the Head of the Department. They are expected to select a health problem/topic of interest, conceptualize their research questions, and design an appropriate methodology, under the guidance of two supervisors. The project is usually conducted in pairs, and an interdisciplinary approach is encouraged. The first supervisor is usually an academic staff member of the Department, and a second supervisor with expertise in the research area is assigned. The final research report is submitted at the end of the fourth year.


Visiting staff and tutors


Postgraduate programmes

Postgraduate Training

The Department functions as a training centre for the MD in Community Medicine in partnership with the Post-Graduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo.

The following post-graduate trainees have obtained training in the Department. During their training period they were supervised by academic staff of the Department.

  • Dr. P. Lukumar (2004 to 2006, supervised by Dr. N. Sivarajah & Dr. A. Pathmeswaran)
  • Dr. R. Surenthirakumaran (2008 to 2011, supervised by Dr. N. Sivarajah & Dr. A. Pathmeswaran)
  • Dr. S. Sivaganesh (2009 to 2011, supervised by Dr. N. Sivarajah & Dr. A. Pathmeswaran)
  • Dr. N. Rajeshkannan (2009 to 2011, supervised by Dr. N. Sivarajah & Dr. A. Pathmeswaran)
  • Dr. P. A. D. Coonghe (2013 to 2015, supervised by Dr. N. Sivarajah & Prof. Pushpa Fonseka )
  • Dr. M. Thakshagini (PGIM Trainee in Venereology obtained MOH training – November to April 2016 – supervised Dr. R. Surenthirakumaran)

The following post-graduate trainees are currently in training:

  • Dr. Thirumagal Sivashangar (2016-2018, supervised by Dr. R. Surenthirakumaran)
  • Dr. C. J. Mathan Raj (2018-    , supervised by Dr. R. Surenthirakumaran)

Master of Science in Health Management, Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Jaffna.

Academic staff members of the Department contribute to this programme on a visiting basis.

Elective placements for international students

The Department accepts a limited number of international medical students interested in undertaking a placement in matters relevant to community and family medicine. The placement provides opportunities to train in peri-urban and rural settings in northern Sri Lanka, enabling students to:

  • Become familiar with the structure and organization of Sri Lanka’s preventive health sector;
  • Visit a range of health institutions located in the Northern Province, including provincial/district-level health administrative institutions, divisional hospitals, maternal and child health clinics, and other grassroots non-government organizations engaged in the provision of community-based services;
  • Participate in health promotion and health education programmes at community level;
  • Work with healthcare staff and patients whose first language is not English; and
  • Gain familiarity with the challenges of working in a resource-poor setting.