This week DKI APCSS welcomes alumnus Dr. Novil Wijesekara as a guest speaker to the Comprehensive Security Cooperation Course 22-1. Originally from Colombo, Sri Lanka, Dr. Wijesekara is an alumnus of the Comprehensive Crisis Management Course (CMC) that took place in February 2020.
As part of his participation in CMC, Dr. Wijesekara began implementing a Fellows Project titled, “Build the Capacity of Religious Leaders to Prevent Violent Extremism in Sri Lanka through a Public Health Approach.” Due to the ongoing pandemic he was forced to redirect his efforts to produce a workshop titled, “COVID-19 and Beyond.” In partnership with DKI APCSS, he designed the workshop, recruited speakers and participants, served as a speaker, and co-hosted the event. The workshop participants presented South Asia perspectives on COVID-19 prevention and mitigation. The participants shared best practices in responding to the pandemic and identified common challenges that the countries of South Asia were facing.
Upon returning to Sri Lanka after attending CMC, he was quickly assigned to Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 National Task Force. As part of the Task Force he readily applied the crisis management knowledge he learned from DKI APCSS. He worked collaboratively with representatives from all aspects of government and society to navigate the pandemic. Today, he appreciates how DKI APCSS equipped him to look at a crisis comprehensively from the perspective of multiple disciplines.
“After the course, we went into a laboratory of crisis. Everything was a crisis,” says Dr. Wijesekara. “I was really able to appreciate the cross- boundary nature of crisis where there is overlap between different sectors and disciplines to handle a crisis.”
“I was placed at the intersection of health and security. I was able to liaise between the sectors of health and security to help with COVID 19 response.”
Dr. Wijesekara is currently a fellow at the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program at the Rollins School of Public health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a medical doctor and holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, a Doctor of Medicine in Community Medicine, a Master of Science in Disaster Management, a Master of Science in Community Medicine, a Post Graduate Diploma in Diplomatic Studies and Foreign Relations, and a Diploma in Human Rights and Peace Education.