Dr. Wijaya Godakumbura
Rolex Laureate, President, Safe Bottle Lamp Foundation, Sri Lanka
Dr Wijaya Godakumbura is a surgeon from Sri Lanka, with a passion for public safety and helping people.
Forty five years ago, whilst still a medical student, he started addressing the public on health matters through the media. Later in 1971, he wrote a book entitled ‘A Doctor Speaks‘, for which he received a state literary award.
After 38 years as a surgeon, Dr Godakumbura developed a great passion to prevent unintentional injuries such as road accidents, drowning and burns. He was dismayed to note that 95% of injuries and deaths occur in developing countries. Having treated many burns victims in Sri Lanka, he had a firsthand knowledge of the extreme misery caused by burns, often due to makeshift kerosene lamps falling while used in many of the 2 million households that lacked electricity. So, in 1992 he launched a project to prevent those burns.
He designed a safe lamp that is simple and capable of quick mass production at a low cost. During the past 19 years his work received wide acclaim. He won four prestigious international awards, being the Rolex, Reader’s Digest, Lindberg and World Challenge awards, and his work was featured in CNN, BBC world TV and magazines like Reader’s Digest, Science and Nature, TIME, Newsweek and National Geographic. He has presented his work at 13 international conferences.
In addition to his work with the safe lamp, Dr Godakumbura is involved in the prevention of other accidents. He has just completed writing a book entitled Child Injury Prevention, to be published soon. He is a contributor to two WHO Publications, on Child Injury Prevention and Burn Prevention and Care.