“My desire to be a military doctor originates from the civil war in my country, Sri Lanka, when I heard stories of wounded soldiers being treated by them,” reveals Dr Roshan Jayamanna, a colonel serving as a medical peacekeeper with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
“Being a peacekeeper here in South Sudan, as UNMISS works to build peace from the ground up was a natural decision for me; I wanted to serve under the blue flag and provide essential medical support in areas affected by conflict,” he continues.
For Dr Jayamanna, who is deployed to Bor, Jonglei state, his standout moment came when he was called upon to go to treat local communities here who suffer from a lack of healthcare facilities, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I feel a sense of joy and fulfilment when I treat patients here. Most communities across South Sudan have little or no access to medical facilities and when they see the Blue Berets coming, they expect us to be able to provide them with whatever care we can provide. Building their trust, confidence and being able to use my medical expertise for most vulnerable patients is my greatest passion and also my greatest achievement,” he avers eloquently. “It is my biggest joy.”
I feel a sense of joy and fulfilment when I treat patients here
Having earned his medical degree in Sri Lanka in 2000, the then 29-year-old went on to further specialize in India.
Currently 50 years of age with some 29 years of military service under his belt, Dr Jayamanna is proud to have served in UN Peacekeeping; he has done two tours in Haiti and UNMISS is his third deployment as a peacekeeper.
He is the contingent commander of the Level 2 UN Hospital in Bor run by dedicated Blue Helmets from Sri Lanka and was deployed in 2020.
“A ‘Level 2’ hospital basically is a facility where medical peacekeepers are equipped to provide a high level of medical care—including major surgeries, emergency air evacuations and an Intensive Care Unit—to patients. When I was deployed to Bor in the thick of the COVID crisis, this meant we had to up our preparedness immediately to deal with potential cases of the Coronavirus among our peacekeepers,” he states.
“Additionally, we had to continue our often lifesaving interventions for community members from Bor. I am proud to say that my team and I managed to continue our operations smoothly during this critical time,” he adds.