Colonel P.P. Gunamuni has taken many diligent steps to protect the health and wellbeing of soldiers, civilians, families, and communities. “In my 25 years of service in the SL Army, we faced countless national threats and crisis, adverse weather conditions, flooding, landslides, tsunamis and the likes. But we were not prepared to face a pandemic and threat of this magnitude”, says Colonel Gunamuni. “We had no prior training to combat something like this, so most often we learned what needs to be done on-the-job.”
“It’s unlike the war where the threat was imminent”, he adds, “the pandemic was another challenge altogether. We are in the frontline fighting an enemy who we don’t have a complete understanding of. But it is our responsibility to protect our people, and we are bound to this duty. And this time around we were not the only ones on the frontline. We did our best to support the health care services of our country.”
Colonel Gunamuni has been responsible for many aspects of the preventative care which also included building and maintaining quarantine centres and enhancing its facilities. “We had to ensure the suspected patients who arrived had appropriate facilities from lodging, food, proper sanitation, and so on, in order to curb and prevent the spread,” he says. From spreading awareness in surrounding villages, distributing harvest and rations to transporting patients to the quarantine centres; the scale of tasks they had undertaken is unprecedented in itself.
Colonel Gunamuni concludes by stressing on the importance of individual responsibility and self-commitment to overcome this pandemic. “By strictly following the guidelines proposed by the health experts, we can win this fight together.”