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Sri Lanka currently faces a ‘double burden’ of non-communicable and communicable diseases. Public institutions geared primarily to care for communicable diseases struggled to meet demand for quality care in non-communicable diseases. The World Health Organization has developed tools for implementing appropriate health care for long-term problems.We piloted interventions in self-management support, delivery system design, decision support and clinical information systems at sites in urban and rural Sri Lanka. This undertaking confirmed that interventions through adaptation of Sri Lanka's primary care infrastructure and establishment of innovative partnerships enable the effective implementation of care with existing resources in the short term. We demonstrated that media can be used as a powerful forum for educating the public, promoting new attitudes, providing skills for improving health status and influencing both planners and health care professionals. We also demonstrated that training and education of health care workers and research collaborations can influence policy makers. The collaboration to date has established a model for international collaboration providing both educational and technical support towards capacity building within the country. Collaborations with developing countries will enable the prevention and control of chronic disease in the developing world in keeping with the United Nations resolution regarding diabetes.