Prof. Anton Jayasuriya’s interests in Medicine and Humanitarian work started at an early age when as a young man living in Sri Lanka he saw poverty and illness in a country with no healthcare system. Since its independence in 1948, Sri Lanka has striven to try and provide free healthcare and education.
He enrolled at the Medical College in Colombo at the age of eighteen and graduated as a Doctor in 1954 Magna Cum Laude (with great honour). Thereafter he practised in various parts of Sri Lanka, including Galle, Ratnapura and Jaffna. Sometime in the next two years, Dr Anton travelled to England where he worked for some time. He became a Post Graduate Fellow at Guys Hospital from 1957 to 1959 and was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society of Medicine in 1957.
In 1962 he attended the W.H.O. (World Health Organisation) Conference in Alma Ata at the University of Khazakstan. At this conference, a United Nations global strategy for public health was developed and called ‘Health for all by 2000 AD.’ In particular, this strategy wanted to make use of both orthodox and traditional healing systems.
Professor Anton himself was elected by the W.H.O. to look into researching and teaching these various methodologies in pursuit of this strategy. His efforts together with Professor Jos Schade, a Neurologist at the University of Utrecht in Holland, helped to create a teaching centre there.
However, they realised that because of the high living costs in Western Europe, students from developing nations could not afford to attend the courses. In order to make this knowledge more accessible it was decided to move the teaching to Sri Lanka. It was placed under the Chairmanship of Professor Anton Jayasuriya, who founded the international organisation Medicina Alternativa. The teaching centre itself was held at the Institute of Acupuncture at the Colombo South Government General Hospital, Kalubowila, Sri Lanka.
During his work, he was offered the position of Chief Consultant Physician at the Olympic Games for the Disabled in Canada (now known as the Summer Paralympics) in 1976 and The Olympics in Montreal in the same year. No Sri Lankan had ever or since then held this role.
Despite the pressures of his work locally and internationally, he managed to be the author of over ninety-seven books in various areas of alternative medicine such as acupuncture, homoeopathy, bach flower remedies, Taoist philosophy, clinical psychology and the future of complementary medicines – he even had a small publication entitled Laughter is the best Alternative Medicine. His Manual of Clinical Acupuncture has to date sold more than one and a half million copies worldwide.
On the 6th of April, 2005, before leaving for his daily work to see his patients and students, Professor Anton Jayasuriya died unexpectedly. He was found in his room at his Wellawatte residence at International Buddhist Centre Road around 6am on a Wednesday. He was 75. Following his last wishes, he was buried according to his requests that the funeral should be held inexpensively, with a simple coffin on the same day of his death.
In 2007 Professor Anton Jayasuriya was posthumously awarded the United Nations Millennium Award by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his contribution to humanity throughout his life.