August 18, 2019
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    Sri Lanka celebrates 7th consecutive year as Malaria-Free country Featured

    May 05, 2019

    Sri Lanka celebrated this year’s World Malaria Day, observed around the world, for the 7th consecutive year as a Malaria-free country. Malaria, a deadly disease which killed thousands of people in the 1930s in the Dry Zone infecting more than five million, is now history – thanks to the sustained efforts of the Anti Malaria Campaign of the Ministry of Health. Although the country once reached near elimination in the 60s with only 17 malaria patients, an unexpected lapse saw a surge in the disease.

    Learning from past mistakes, however, the country saw a remarkable turnaround achieving Malaria Elimination status in 2012, with the support of all stakeholders acting collectively to strengthen activities preventing a re-introducing of the disease. However, Sri Lanka is constantly at risk of the disease coming back due to several factors such as, the large number of people travelling to and from countries having malaria and due to mosquitoes responsible for the spread of the disease in most parts of the country, warns the Director General of Health Services, Ministry of Health, Dr Anil Jasinghe in a message on World Malaria Day. While indigenous transmission is no longer prevalent, he has said that each year around fifty cases of imported malaria were reported in various parts of the country among infected travellers . If these cases were not detected promptly there could be a high risk of the malaria epidemic returning, he warned. He emphasised that public support through awareness and education was the key to preventing this.

    The Anti Malaria Campaign has the following advice to those planning to visit a malaria endemic country : Start preventive drugs before leaving and continue using them during your stay there. Travellers who have returned should continue the drugs for four more weeks as they could still carry the infection in their bodies and infect others. “If you get fever within a year of your return, get your blood tested for malaria”, they said. Meanwhile a Sri Lanka fact sheet on Malaria issued by the Epidemiology Unit states that the following persons fall into high risk groups for imported malaria to Sri Lanka:

    Sri Lankans: Gem traders travelling to African countries like Madagascar and Mozambique, businessmen, leisure travellers, seafarers, military persons returning from UN peacekeeping missions, pilgrims to India and returnees from South India re-settling in the North East areas of Sri Lanka.

    Foreign nationals include : Immigrant workers from malaria endemic countries like India and Pakistan, refugees, asylum seekers from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Myanmar, tourists arriving from or travelling through malaria endemic countries.

    The Campaign has set up a 24 hour hotline for further inquiries, and the contact number is 0117626626

    Shortage of medicines, medical equipment at Batticaloa hospital

    Batticaloa Teaching Hospital Director Kalarani Ganeshalingam reportedly said that there was a shortage of medicines and medical equipment at the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital where twenty persons injured by the Zion church Easter bombings still remain. She has also reportedly charged that there was insufficient police guard as the Police had withdrawn their guard since April 22 despite her request for protection, from the Batticaloa District Superintendent of Police. Hence she was forced to manage with the protection afforded by the hospital security.

    GMOA says 1,000 doctors ready for any emergency

    The Government Medical Officers’ Association ( GMOA) Secretary, Dr Haritha Aluthge has reportedly said the GMOA has over a thousand doctors who can be deployed to treat people in any emergency. Speaking at a press conference at the GMOA headquarters last week he said the GMOA had one hundred branches islandwide, and each branch had 15 doctors who could carry out any emergency services including blood transfusions. He said after Sunday’s suicide bomb attacks as well as natural disasters taking place in the country, the GMOA was able to offer a number of doctors for emergency services at very short notice. He reportedly said this was the first unfortunate incident that occurred after 2009 and the experience gathered by the Sri Lankan health services before 2009 helped to manage the large number of victims rushed to state hospitals after the series of Easter bomb blasts.

    No parcels, large bags, please

    Hospitals, banks, post offices and other pubic institutions have appealed to the public to refrain from carrying large bags and parcels into their establishments whenever possible They have added that the public must also be prepared to undergo security checks and cooperate with the security staff and wear their IDs or carry their IDs with them at all times.

    Call to save Mother Earth

    Countries across the world reaffirmed their acknowledgement of the role of Earth as a mother who sustains and nurtures all living species including humans, animals, and plants, on April 22, as they observed the tenth anniversary of the UN declared International Mother Earth Day. Activists highlighted the angers our planet faced from deforestation, vehicular emissions and plastic overuse, the latter now cited as one of the biggest polluters of land and marine life. The day saw several local organisations and volunteers in Sri Lanka cleaning beaches, canals, public parks, playgrounds, school premises, hospital premises and public buildings, tanks that had fallen into disuse, lakes, ponds clogged with lunch sheets, yogurt cups, plastic sheets, etc. at the request of the Ministry of Environment. President Maithripala Sirisena played a leading role in spearheading the cleaning up campaigns taking this year’s Earth Day activities to a new level. Art and essay competitions on the theme of protecting planet earth reinforced the underlying message of Earth Day of saving the planet from global warming and reducing the drastic fallouts of rising temperatures. They are small steps to be taken one at a time, but they would help build a more sustainable future for all, was the sentiment of most activists.

     

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