The Unit was established in August 2005 with the approval of the University Grants Commission in recognition of continuous field and laboratory research on lymphatic filariasis (LF) carried out by the Department of Parasitology for a period of seventeen years headed by Professor Mirani V. Weerasooriya. Professor Weerasooriya is the founder head of the Unit. This is the only research unit in LF established in the university system in Sri Lanka and the first research unit established in University of Ruhuna. The activities during the last seventeen years included epidemiology, vector biology and transmission, diagnosis including development of newer diagnostic techniques and treatment trials using new drug regimens and control studies including vector control.
Since the initiation of the national Programme for the Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (PELF) the Unit has carried out research on delimitation of endemic areas by Rapid Assessment Procedures (RAP) using standard questionnaires and preparing GIS maps and confirming the results with recently developed urine ELISA, evaluation, monitoring of Mass Drug Administration Programmes (MDAs), emphasis on health education in relation to LF and studies on lymphoedema management using a Home Based Care Programme.
- Professor Eisaku Kimura and his team from the Aichi Medical University, Japan have collaborated with the unit since 1995.
- By 2008 some 28 publications and 65 abstracts and presentations have appeared in national and international journals.
The functions of the Unit include (a) research (b) training undergraduates, post-graduates and health personnel (c) service functions including clinics (d) elective appointments for local and foreign graduate students.