The first professional association of public health officers in Sri Lanka was the Society of Medical Officers of Health which was established during the British colonial era on 26 November 1927. It was established with a view to safeguarding interests of it’s members and promoting public health in the country and stimulating interests of the public in matters relevant to their health. Dr.F.E.Bridger was the first president. It started with a membership of 26 which rose to 56 in 4 years. The society consisted of Medical Officers of Health(MOH), specialists in public health and professionals engaged in the advancement of public health. “The Transactions of the Society of Medical Officers of Health of Ceylon ” was their annual journal made up of papers presented at the annual meeting.
In 1960, the society changed its name to the “ Ceylon Public Health Association”. It brought under its banner all persons involved in public health thus making it an exclusive forum for both medical and non-medical professionals equally. These included clinicians, sanitary engineers, health educators and invariably MOHs. The journal was also renamed as the Journal of the Ceylon Public Health Association. In the 1960′s, the society reached a state of dormancy. In 1970, some keen public health practitioners formed the Sri Lanka Association of Preventive and Social Medicine. Dr. N.P.M.Cooray was its founder president while Dr. Terrance Fernando was the secretary. The association was again renamed as the Sri Lanka Association of Community Medicne.
In 1994,the membership unanimously resolved to convert the association to a college. It was named The College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka. Professor Dulitha Fernando was the founder president of the College. The initial membership was 180. The first council meeting was held 13.12.1995. The first annual academic sessions were held on 6th and 7th of December 1996. Professor savithri Gunasekera, the vice chancellor of the university of Colombo, was the chief guest at the first annual academic sessions of the College. The oldest member and a Past President of the Association Dr. W.A. Karunaratne was admitted as the first fellow of the college.