January 24, 2020
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    The Cabinet of Ministers approved the proposal made by Higher Education, Technology and Innovation Minister to take necessary measures to attract foreign and non-residential students to pursue higher education in Sri Lanka, with the intention of making Sri Lanka an Education Hub in the region, Co-Cabinet Media Spokesman Information and Communications Technology, Higher Education, Technology and Innovations Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardane said.The Minister made this observation at the weekly Cabinet media briefing held yesterday at the Government Information Department.

    Riches of mother's milk

    January 24, 2020
     

    Sri Lanka has become the number one nation in the world in supporting women who breastfeed and in enhancing breastfeeding practices in the country and was awarded the first-ever ‘Green Nation Status’ by the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) recently, Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe said.According to Dr. Jasinghe, the WBTi congratulates Sri Lanka for achieving this status scoring in 91 out of 100 parameters on policy and programmes which support women who breastfeed.The WBTi is a worldwide initiative which consists of 120 countries and it does colour coding and ranking of countries under 10 programmes.

    Dr. Jasinghe pointed out that the colour codes, namely red, yellow, blue and green are given in ascending order depending on performance. The WBTi also assists countries to assess and analyse gaps and then calls for action to bridge the gaps. Inadequate breastfeeding costs the global economy almost US$ 1 billion each day; this loss is due to lost productivity and healthcare costs. Breastfeeding benefits child health, women’s health and also prevents contraction of non-communicable diseases in adult life.

    SRI LANKA’S ACHIEVEMENT

    “This target can only be achieved through the galvanisation of national action to protect and support every pregnant and lactating woman. Globally, only 41 percent of infants below six months are exclusively breastfed, whereas in Sri Lanka, it has already reached 82 percent. The World Health Assembly has set a target to reach 50 percent globally by 2025, and every country should contribute to it. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), every breastfeeding woman and her baby require an enabling environment to begin breastfeeding within an hour of birth, breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months and continuing breastfeeding along with adequate food till the child is two years or more,” he added.

    BENEFITS OF BREASTFEEDING

    Consultant Neonatologist at De Soysa Hospital for Women who is attached to the Child Nutrition Unit of the Family Health Bureau of the Health Ministry, Dr. Nishani Lucas spoke about the advantages of breastfeeding and the dreadful effects of milk powder (infant formula).

    According to Dr. Lucas, the best milk for any infant or child is his or her mother’s milk (breast milk). There are numerous values in breast milk. It is full of nutrients and easily digestible, absorbed and prevents constipation. Breast milk protects the baby from infections such as diarrhea; respiratory tract infections; ear infections; urinary tract infections; meningitis; allergies including asthma and eczema; cancers such as leukaemia; dental malocclusion; obesity; diabetes; hypercholesterolaemia; hypertension; and coronary artery diseases as well as immune-mediated diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that occur in adulthood.

    The breast milk ensures the baby’s optimum brain growth with seven – ten points increase in IQ scores. It also helps in psycho-social development through the attachment or the bond build up between the mother and the baby. Breastfeeding safeguards the health status of the mother by reducing the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer, and anemia, while reducing her insulin requirement leading to better control of diabetes. Breastfeeding helps the mother to regain her body shape without dieting or extra exercise as it mobilises the fat deposits accumulated during pregnancy.

    FORMULA MILK

    Artificial feeding (powdered milk or infant formula) reduces the IQ by seven – 10 points, and increases the risk of infections such as diarrhoea by 64 percent, respiratory diseases by 72 percent and ear infections by 50 percent.

    It also increases the risk of allergies such as asthma and eczema, and diseases such as leukaemia, along with the development of non-communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, coronary heart diseases, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease when the baby reaches adulthood.

    “Formula milk is not a sterile product and harmful pathogens have been identified in sealed containers. Enterobacter sakazakii found in formula milk causes meningitis followed by neonatal death. It was also found to have several toxins such as melamine in the recent past which caused several infant deaths as well as renal failure in China in 2008, and cupric sulphate which is a chemical found in pesticides such as dicyandiamide (DCD) in 2013 in our own country,” she said.

    She also mentioned that the harm caused by formula milk is comparable or worse than the impact of smoking. Formula milk should not be an option for a baby whose mother is alive and breastfeeding does not lead to the death of a mother who suffers from severe heart diseases such as pulmonary hypertension or cardiomyopathy.

    Poor techniques lead to reduced milk production. A mother should ensure that the hospital in which she delivers the baby checks the breastfeeding technique and the baby’s weight and that the weight loss is not more than five percent of the birth weight on discharge. If it is more than five percent, she needs extra help with the breastfeeding technique though nothing is wrong with her body; it is just that she has not been given proper support for breastfeeding. Lactation Management Centres in many state hospitals support a mother in this regard irrespective of where she gave birth to her child. These are walk-in day centres where all mothers seeking help to breastfeed are welcomed and supported to exclusively breastfeed their babies.

    AWARENESS PROGRAMME

    A joint awareness programme launched by the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) and the Health Ministry to educate people on the health dangers of consuming imported milk powder was held recently.

    The event took place at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) last Monday (20) at 9.00 am with the participation of Health Ministry Secretary Bhadrani Jayawardena, Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinghe, GMOA President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya, GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge, GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. Navin De Zoysa, GMOA Media Spokesman Dr. Samantha Ananda and other GMOA officials. Leaflets were distributed among people to raise awareness of the health dangers of imported milk powder.

    According to GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge, Rs. 54 billion was spent on importing milk powder to Sri Lanka in 2018, and it has been reduced by Rs. 20 million now due to high awareness among the public which resulted in the decrease of milk powder consumption in Sri Lanka. According to the Consumer Affairs Authority Committee Report, milk powder is a food item under the high-risk category. The expert committee was appointed responding to a request made by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

    “One leading multinational company which imports milk powder to Sri Lanka clearly states in its website that milk powder is produced by adding palm oil in order to cut cost and make profits. The company has not responded to the issue yet. Palm oil is cancerous. Imported milk powder is actually not milk,” he said.

    iNTERIM REPORT ON IMPORTED MILK POWDER ISSUES

    The Interim Report says that imported milk powder is not given to the 225 members in the Parliament, instead they are being given liquid milk and pasteurised milk. The report recommends not to import fat-filled milk powder to Sri Lanka and that domestic liquid milk should be consumed instead.

    The report points out that adulteration of imported milk powder within a range of 40 percent often conducted by private companies cannot be detected using the existing methods of testing.

    The report recommends that all relevant existing rules and regulations such as the Food Act and Consumer Affairs Authority Act should further be strengthened to protect consumers.

    The report recommends teaching schoolchildren of all ages that milk powder is not an essential food item and underlines the need for the promotion of a proper method to encourage the consumption of other local traditional food items instead of milk powder.

     

     

     

     

     
     

    The government is intervening to manage the currently volatile rice market by buying up surplus paddy stocks in the Maha cultivation season of 2019/2020. This is to encourage the private sector paddy millers to purchase paddy under a fair price thus ensuring a fixed price for paddy, Co-Cabinet Media Spokesman Information and Communications Technology, Higher Education, Technology and Innovations Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardena announced yesterday. Addressing the weekly Cabinet media briefing at the Government Information Department yesterday, Minister Dr. Gunawardane said the harvesting of paddy for the Maha cultivation season 2019/20 has already begun and a harvest of three million metric tons of paddy harvest is expected.

     

    The Government declared areas in Chundikulam, Delft Island, Adam’s Bridge, Kotuaththawala, Kayankerni, and Madu Road as national parks.Moving the motion in Parliament yesterday, Environment and Wildlife Resources and Lands & Land Development Minister S.M. Chandrasena stated that some of these new national parks were longstanding sanctuaries with high biodiversity and historical importance.

    “Chundikulam, which was considered as a national sanctuary since 1938, was alleviated as a national park that contains over 27,500 acres. The biodiversity in Chundikulam attracts migrant birds. Permanent structures were removed in converting it to a national park from a sanctuary,” he explained.

    Minister Chandrasena said that the Madu Road that surrounds Mannar, Mulaitivu, and Vavuniya was a sanctuary declared in 1968. Identifying its biodiversity, the Government has elevated it as a national park. “There are considerable numbers of wild elephants roaming Madu Road Sanctuary and an elephant pass is also found through the Madu Sanctuary. It is confirmed that different species including leopards, deer, and bears live in the Madu sanctuary because of its favourable conditions for mammals. So, we had to remove certain agricultural lands and villages to safeguard it as a national park,” he said.

    “Historically important Delft Island is high in biodiversity. An area of 1846 ha in the Southern part of the Delft Island is reserved for wild horses. The Adam’s Bridge Marine National Park, which looks like a chain, is made up of small islands with sand dunes of different sizes. Part of it is found within the Indian Territory and identified as the Gulf of Mannar National Park. This is the inter boundary national park of Sri Lanka. Millions of migratory birds use these islands for nesting,” the Minister noted.

     

    Rauff urges Speaker to investigate recent media report on his arrest

    MP Rauff Hakeem yesterday requested the speaker to conduct an investigation on the recent media report that said a complaint had been lodged with the Police Headquarters calling for his arrest.

    MP Hakeem made this request raising a privilege issue in Parliament yesterday.

    He said that on January 18, several newspapers carried a main news item of a complaint at the Colombo Police Headquarters made by Major Ajith Prasanna calling for his arrest.

    He added that the complaint was based on the television news item on October 23, 24 and 25, 2019 that showed video clips of his visit to a hospital to inquire after Rowland, the brother of the mastermind behind the Easter Sunday terror attack Zahran in 2017, and that he (Rauff) ought to be questioned in this regard.

    He added that it was incorrect. In the aftermath of Easter Sunday attack, numerous interrogations were carried out by the CID and the TID on multiple dimensions of the suicide terror attacks carried out by Zahran Hashim and Rilwan and few others.

    In addition to this, related reports were also prepared by the Parliamentary Select Committee and a Presidential Commission until this day.

    “I could endorse that neither myself nor my party members have been accused of any alleged links with these terrorists,” MP Hakeem said. “In the wake of the presidential election in 2019, many vicious theatricals were staged to implicate me with these terrorists to cause disrepute and disharmony. At this instance too, I have spoken in Parliament and in media conferences clarifying my position and dispelling baseless accusations.”

    He added that he had explained the circumstances of his visit to the hospital in the Video clip earlier. “It happened in the aftermath of M. L. A. M. Hizbullah’s defeat at the General Elections in 2015. I noted in the so called video that Zahran too has been seated amidst those crowds gathered that day that protested against Hisbullah’s appointment to the SLPA national list.

    “Moreover my meeting with those injured in the hospital, post August 22 incident was open public event and was not a clandestine secret meeting. I visited the hospital in the presence of DIG Batticaloa, other police officers and media personnel,” MP Hakeem said. “Unfortunately nobody knew that anyone of them who were in hospital was a terrorist or potential terrorist at that time. I strongly assert with absolute conviction and sincerity to my conscience the fact of having had no such knowledge about them myself,” the MP said.

    He said further that some TV channels are repeatedly showing this video of his visit to Katankudy with different harmful opinions, disrupting community peace and tarnishing his character with no conscience or sense of remorse. It is done by some persons using the media as cats’ paws to defeat me at elections.

    He demanded that the Speaker take immediate steps to investigate these allegations against him. He added that he will extend his fullest co-operation in that regard.

    Bomb blast at Shahrukh Khan’s 2004 concert in Colombo

    United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP Udaya Gammanpila denied any knowledge of the claim by United National Front (UNF) MP Ranjan Ramanayake that he knew who was behind the bomb blast at the musical concert of Indian actor Shahrukh Khan held in Colombo in 2004.

    Gammanpila was participating in debate on the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance in Parliament yesterday.He said that he only knows as much as what the public knows regarding this incident.“Ramanayake had said in Parliament that people should ask me about the culprits behind the bomb blast at that concert. I only know of the rumours about the incident just like everyone else. If I know anything more, I will inform the authorities,” he added.

    “Ramanayake said on January 21 that he recorded his phone conversations to catch thieves. But his leaked conversations tell a different story. What he has done was to intimidate the judges, conspire to send certain MPs to prison and leak sensitive information pertaining to Police investigations. His leaked conversations clearly indicate that he is a liar. It is not evident that he tried to catch thieves when we listen to these leaked conversations. Ramanayake should be given the Best Actor Award for his speech on January 21 which comprised utter lies,” he said.

    Legal action over renting building in Rajagiriya for Agriculture Ministry

    The Agriculture Ministry is taking legal measures against renting the building in Rajagiriya for the Ministry for Rs 2.3 million per month during the former UNP led government, which is a massive corruption, Agriculture State Minister Vidura Wickramanayake said in Parliament yesterday.

    The State Minister said the lawyers are studying the matter in detail before filing the case. He added that is a corruption and a deliberate fraud and the measures will be taken to penalise all including officers and the politicians who involved in it.
    He said that this government did not need to continue with this corruption and added that the ministry was shifted to a government building at 8.37 am yesterday (23). He added that the rest of the offices will be shifted soon. He said the rented out building had not done any good to the farmers. He was responding to a supplementary question by JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake in relation to a question by MP Hesha Vithanage in the round of questions for oral answers.

    MP Dissanayake said that during the previous government, the building owned by husband of film actress Sabeetha Perera was rented at Rs. 21 million plus VAT. He added that altogether the Ministry had to pay Rs. 23 million a month. He asked if the government will take measures to stop it.

    Legal action should be taken against Wilpattu deforestation – Nalinda

    JVP Parliamentarian Nalinda Jayathissa yesterday urged the government to take legal action against those who cut down a section of the Wilpattu forest. He said that even though the Wilpattu forest had been gazetted, its destruction is evident now.

    He was speaking in the debate on four orders under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance in Parliament yesterday. He said that in 2007 flood, the Kalu River mouth was excavated and it resulted in the Calido Beach sea erosion causing an irreparable and irreversible damage.

    The government abolished the licence system for transporting soil and sand and it accelerates the environment pollution as mining sand has been increased. He added that environmentalists have warned of this issue beforehand. Some forests have been taken for development projects although some have been gazetted, he said.

    The elephant-human conflict has intensified. Over 361 elephants and 100 people died in the conflict last year. The government must provide a permanent solution to this issue, he said.


    Pinnawela revenue fast dwindling
    State Minister of Ports Development Kanaka Herath said Pinnawala was once a prominent tourist destination which drew over 37 per cent of tourists. He said that it was pathetic that such a prominent tourist site earns around only Rs. 476 million in revenue in 2019.

    He was speaking in the debate on the presentation of four bills under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance in parliament yesterday.“In 2016, Pinnawala raked in a revenue of Rs. 838 million, in 2017 it was Rs. 728 million and in 2018, 692 million. Since 2016, its revenue has been reducing gradually. One of the main reasons for the dwindling revenue is stopping feeding milk to the baby elephants. It was the main attraction drawing tourists to Pinnawala. However, two years ago in 2017, it was stopped for some reason.”

    He said there were no baby elephants under the age of five in Pinnawela that led to stop the milk feeding. Herath added that due to the actions of the previous government, today it has not been able to find an elephant calf less than five years of age to be sent to Pinnawala. “Despite many inquiries from the ministers of the previous government, they failed to give us an acceptable response. Since 2015 to date, not a single elephant calf has been born there. The youngest calf at Pinnawala is six years old. In another 60 years, if this situation is not rectified, this facility will have to close.

    In response, former Wildlife Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera said that the female elephants at Pinnawala are ageing and when he tried to find a solution to this issue, several parties had protested against him. He said that if a solution to this problem is not found, Pinnawala will have to close down, as pointed out by State Minister Herath.

    Minister Herath said that as a solution to this issue, orphaned elephant calves or young elephants could be provided to Pinnawala. “We will have to formulate a proper reproduction mechanism and may have to introduce a wild elephant even and achieve this goal. I appeal to the Wildlife Minister to take proper measures to resolve this issue, otherwise, we will lose the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in another 50 years.”

    He said that as a solution to the cruelty being leashed upon elephants during elephant rides, elephants from Pinnawala could be used for elephant walks where the tourists could walk the elephants. He also noted that previously, university students from other countries used to come to Pinnawala and do voluntary service for around six months, but that too had now stopped. Therefore, he suggested that this programme be re-implemented.
    With regard to the proposal to shift the Dehiwala Zoo to Kesbewa, he urged the Wildlife Minister to take measures to implement a proper system that would ensure a good experience for tourists visiting the zoo. “Otherwise, the visitors to the zoo would blame the authorities,” he said.

    Steps should be taken to protect black leopard
    The Government should take measures to protect the recently spotted black leopard which was believed to have been extinct in the Central Hills, United National Front (UNF) MP Ajith P. Perera said in Parliament yesterday.

    Participating in the debate on orders under the Flora and Fauna Ordinance Perera said, “We should be happy about discovering them. Now we have a huge responsibility to protect them. Some other countries give these types of rare creatures military protection when they are spotted. Not only that, our media should do their reporting with a responsibility,” he said.

    He urged the government to consider the human-elephant conflict as a national problem.

    The MP also pointed out that the Government’s decision to liberalise permits to transport sand, soil and granite is abused by racketeers.

    “This decision has triggered illegal mining activities even in environmentally sensitive areas. Customers have not benefitted by this decision either, because prices of sand, soil and granite have not reduced. There should be a control over this situation. Otherwise, we will have to face bigger problems in the future,” he added.

    Previous government took forest land for projects

    The Thera made this observation yesterday in Parliament joining the debate on four orders under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.

    “Winds from the Tibet-roof touch tops of the central mountains in Sri Lanka bringing in rains and if the forest cover on the top of the mountains were removed, we would not get the rains,” the Thera said.

    The Thera said the country traditionally spared the mountain tops. |But people had changed it now and this situation must be reversed,” the Thera said.The Thera appreciated the gazzette presented by the government.“We have to take measures to protect our wildlife,” the Thera said.

     
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