The Ethics Review Committee of the Sri Lanka Medical Association was set up to help researchers who were not members of institutions, e.g. family physicians, university academics, and did not have ready access to ethical review committees. The task of setting up this committee was entrusted to the Ethics Committee of the Sri Lanka Medical Association.
The Ethics Committee proposed a format for an independent ethical review committee (ERC) which was accepted by the Council at its meeting in October 1998.
The first meeting of the ERC was held on 9th October 1998 with 6 members. Dr Malik Fernando was appointed first Chairperson of the ERC. The pioneer ERC members were
· Dr. Eugene Corea
· Prof. Anoja Fernando
· Dr. Malee Fernando
· Prof. W. D. Ratnasooriya
· Dr. C. G. Uragoda
Prof. Anura Weerasinghe was appointed the first Secretary/Convenor in September 1999.
Dr. Malik Fernando resigned as Chair in September 1999, to continue as a member, and Professor Anoja Fernando was appointed Chairperson. The ERC had only three applications from 1998 – December 1999 and the first protocol was approved in 2000. During her tenure the ERC activities expanded rapidly as more researchers from both public and private sectors began to submit their research proposals to the SLMA ERC. New members were recruited to facilitate quality review of the increasing number of applications from diverse specialities and emphasis was laid on recruiting younger members to ensure continuity. ERC members were encouraged to attend training programmes to enhance their skills in ethics review. These members in turn have become resource persons for workshops conducted on Research Ethics for researchers and ERC members.
SLMA ERC took the leadership in establishing the Forum for Ethics Review Committees in Sri Lanka, thus providing the necessary framework for all ERCs to function in a uniform manner.
The SLMA ERC obtained SIDCER recognition from Forum for Ethical Review Committees in Asia and the Western Pacific (FERCAP) in November 2016. The ERC SLMA is the only National level ERC of a Professional Association to obtain international recognition.
Professor Anoja Fernando resigned from the ERC in December 2016 and Professor Chandanie Wanigatunge was appointed Chairperson from January 2017.