Impact of spouse migration on left behind families: was a study conducted by the Institute for Research & Development in partnership with the International Organization of Migration and the Ministry of Health as part of the ‘National Migration Health research’ agenda. It was recommended by the Government of Sri Lanka’s ‘Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Migration Health’, and sought to contribute to an evidenced-based ‘National Migration Health Policy’ formulation process. Results of this study along with the other components of the National Research on Migration Health have contributed to the formulation of a comprehensive Migration Health Policy that has emerged as a priority for the government of Sri Lanka.
Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS)The only two intervention studies using cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for medically unexplained symptoms reported from Low and Middle Income Countries (LAMIC) were done by Dr Sumathipala, the director IRD. It is his personal special interest in research.
MUS are an important public health issue following disasters. Therefore after the tsunami, the WHO sponsored training of a critical mass of doctors (400) in Sri Lanka. A manual and a poster were developed. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC – headed by the WHO) guidelines on mental health and psycho social support in emergency settings, has incorporated this work and have recommended it as an important front line post-disaster intervention. After the earthquake in Pakistan and Sichuan province in China, he trained 40 psychiatrists. He was also invited to China after Sichuan earth quake to share his experience.
This work is now being replicated in Vietnam