Medi-snippets: National Anti Doping Agency set up | Sunday Observer

Medi-snippets: National Anti Doping Agency set up

A new government project to ensure that schoolchildren are saved from the drug menace will come into effect from mid March as a special project of the National Anti Doping Agency, President Maithripala Sirisena was quoted as saying when he opened the Agency’s new building at Sugathadasa Stadium last week. He reiterated the need for everyone to work towards eradicating the drug menace in the country noting that there were organised methods adopted by drug smugglers and dealers to infiltrate drugs into the school system and the universities.

According to Anti Doping Agency sources, it aims at building a disciplined, healthy generation and clean sports field, while preventing the use of stimulants among students and sportsmen.

President Sirisena has reportedly said that a special program of the National Drugs Prevention Project would commence on March 15 to protect the new generation of schoolchildren from the drug menace as they were a primary target . The Sujatha Daruwa program will be introduced to schoolchildren with the support of affiliate Ministries.

President calls for National Cancer Prevention Program

With three Sri Lankans dying of Oral Cancer daily, President Maithripala Sirisena has stressed the importance of a National Policy on Oral Cancer Prevention and protect them from this deadly disease through good oral habits. Addressing a workshop on World Oral Cancer Day at Apeksha Hospital in Maharagama last week, under the theme Muwa Suwa Wenuwen Nithi Same Ekwemu President Sirisena was quoted as saying he had introduced a Deheth Watti which is tobacco, lime and arecanut free, which were the main ingredients leading to oral cancer seven years ago to protect people from oral cancer. He was quoted as saying that Sri Lanka was now facing an oral cancer threat as a result of tobacco and arecanut use. He added that the Deheth Wattiya was nothing new in the country and was connected to Buddhist civilisation for centuries.

No harmful substances in milk powder

Health Minister Rajitha Seneratne and a group of experts have reiterated their stand on the current status of milk powder in Sri Lanka. Speaking to the media last week at the Government Information Department he refuted allegations regarding the quality of milk powder imported to the country noting it was a scientific matter and a matter of nutrition as to whether the country needed imported milk or not. He was quoted as saying that he was happy he was able to successfully make submissions that breast milk was the best milk for newborn babies. He raised the question as to how much milk the country could provide locally, reportedly noting that the current production was just ten percent of the total requirements. He thus questioned what would happen to the nutritional standard of the children when the country stopped milk imports. The Minister reportedly added that the quality of the imported milk should be determined through scientific testing methods.

Director General, Health Services (Chief Food Authority) Dr Anil Jasinghe agreeing that the foremost responsibility was to determine if the imported milk powder met the proper nutritional standards, assured that the Health Ministry had conducted all possible tests to ensure that there were no harmful chemicals or any other fat added to the imported powdered milk. He was quoted as saying that in Sri Lanka the Health Ministry had gone to great lengths to prevent milk powder being given to infants in order to promote exclusive breast feeding. As a result the country’s breast feeding level was among the highest in the world at 80%. Deputy Director General Environmental Health and Food Safety, Dr Lakshman Gamlath was also quoted as saying that samples had been sent to local laboratories in addition to the certification issued by the country from which the milk powder had been imported. After having carried out the tests they were able to determine that the test parameters of the samples conformed to the limit specified by Sri Lanka for imported milk. Deputy Government Analyst Deepika Seniviratne confirmed the samples had been tested according to the Sri Lankan Standards Bureau specifications of 2008 and there had been no change in the butter fat content. Senior Deputy Director, Sri Lanka Standards Institute Bureau ( SLSI) Dayani Yapa was also quoted as saying that the SLSI certification was only given if the imported milk powder conformed to all the rigid standards set by the Bureau and assured the public it could be safely used for public consumption.

Traffic Lights labelling for food soon

Regulations are being formulated to introduce the Traffic Lights labelling system to food, to reduce the current Non Communicable Disease epidemic in the country. The colour coding system better known as the ‘traffic light system’ of red, orange and green would be introduced to solid food items available in the market by April 1. Health Ministry sources were quoted as explaining to the media that the different colours indicated the amount of sugar, salt and fat content in each specified food item.: orange for moderate content and green for high amount of salt, sugar and fat in each serving.

According to Food Unit sources the system which had been introduced in 2016 for all beverages to indicate the sugar content in fizzy drinks, juices and cordials, would now be extended to solid food, partially solid food and liquid food, mainly due to the rapid rise in Non Communicable Diseases ( NCDs) .

According to a national survey carried out a few years back, 15 per cent Sri Lankan children were vulnerable to diabetes. The same survey showed that 20% children were vulnerable to diabetes in the Colombo District. The Ministry sources said a new survey was underway at a national level. Although the statistics had not been released officially, it shows that the percentage of children prone to contract NCDs had increased over the years.

Food Unit, Health Ministry spokesman Dr Gamlath was quoted last week as saying that prior to the regulations coming into effect, the Health Ministry was planning an awareness program for students and the public on the new regulations. He reportedly added that the Ministry would hold free medical camps to check the diabetic and cholesterol levels of people island wide to raise awareness. Manufacturers are also being educated on this, he reportedly noted. Dr Gamlath was also quoted as saying that research conducted by the Health Ministry had shown that 50 percent of persons study the colour code system introduced to beverages in 2016, and were now aware that sugar was not beneficial to them. Hence, the Ministry had taken another step forward to introduce the same system for levels of salt, fat and sugar.