Medi-snippets: World Labour Day puts focus on ‘children’s dreams’ | Sunday Observer

Medi-snippets: World Labour Day puts focus on ‘children’s dreams’

The theme of World Day Against Child Labour on June 12 set the priority focus on ‘Children’s dreams, not work’, when the International Labour Organization (ILO) set the yearly tone based on a subject it feels requires more public focus and policy action so as to end child labour globally. Labour Ministry officials were quoted as saying, “Sri Lanka was doing well in terms of a relatively low prevalence of child labour in its agricultural sector and that child labour on tea and rubber plantations is low due to the Government working with local and international partners to tackle the issue responsibly. They were also reported as saying that the Ministry of Labour has been working with dedicated partners such as the ILO to achieve a future of zero child labour and was committed to attain this goal by 2022—ahead of the year 2025 global target set in the Sustainable Development Goals’’. The ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Simrin Singh has reportedly reiterated this fact in the statement that the child labour situation in Sri Lanka is not staggering but one that offers a ray of hope.

However, according to recent data it has been revealed that some 40,000 children in Sri Lanka are still reportedly working as child labourers, which is about 1% of the school-going child population, i.e. one out of a hundred children in Sri Lanka are in child labour, mostly hazardous forms. While school attendance is compulsory for all children, it was revealed that child labour and non-attendance in regular schooling is relatively high in Sri Lanka’s rapidly urbanising city centres than in rural areas. It was further revealed that there was an established pattern of child labour—predominantly in the teenage category, engaged in the informal services sector. Their numbers are highest in the districts of Kurunegala, Gampaha, Colombo, Moneragala and Batticaloa, with many other urbanised localities not far behind.

A large proportion of soon to be young adults are engaged in child labour within the broader ecosystem of the informal services sector: such as, tourism, transport, petty trading and care giving. A majority of these children are boys. A large number also work in boutiques, tea kiosks, eateries and other informal trades, in low-wage and precarious employment. International organisations working for children have suggested that strong coordination among stakeholders could help maintain an effective referral system to deal with these cases. They have said that education authorities, divisional officers or probation units, and social welfare and monitoring officers must actively liaise to assess and follow-up on low school attendance, dropouts and re-enrolment. Effective prevention systems at the community level and supporting households in vulnerable situations, so that children do not drop out of school and fall into exploitative and dangerous work, are a priority need, they reportedly said, for Sri Lanka to achieve its goal of eradicating child labour by 2022.

Sri Lanka free from mother – child HIV, Syphilis

The transmission of HIV and Syphilis from mother to child is no longer a threat and was eliminated in 2018, Consultant Venereologist National EMTCT Program, Dr Lilani Rajapksa was quoted as saying at a recent media discussion at the Health Promotion Bureau auditorium. She reportedly said that after an independent assessment and recommendation by the Regional Committee, the World Health Organisation will validate and certify Sri Lanka’s achievement by August 2019. According to her, the programs to prevent syphilis and HIV transmission from mother to child commenced in 1952 and 2002 respectively. The National Endeavour to Eliminate Transmission of HIV and Syphilis from mother to child took place in 2013. Over 95% of pregnant women had consented to undergo HIV testing by 2016, she noted. She said that since 2011, HIV positive pregnant women who received treatment at the Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) clinics had delivered HIV free babies. Mothers infected with HIV or syphilis are provided treatment and other necessary services during pregnancy and after delivery, by the Government, she reportedly said.

The country now has around 3,200 HIV patients and less than 100 child HIV patients. The number diagnosed with Paediatric AIDS (13) in 2013 had reduced to just two in 2018, she was reported as saying. Director General of Health Services Dr Anil Jasinghe was quoted as saying that this was a significant achievement towards the goal to eliminate HIV and Syphilis by 2025 in Sri Lanka.

Harmful illegal drug use still prevalent

A crime suspect detained in a cell of the Colombo crimes division died on being admitted to the National General Hospital after taking an overdose of ‘Ice’ (crystal methamphetamine). The suspect arrested with a gram of ICE had informed Police officers on duty that just before his arrest he had swallowed a second packet of ice in his possession. ICE causes serious health impacts including insomnia, confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia, and in some cases convulsions that lead to death, health officials from the Health Ministry told the Sunday Observer. Large volumes of kerala ganja and heroin have also been reportedly found in recent raids by the Police and Tri forces which is a matter of concern, health officials said as the target population is mostly youth in the prime of their lives.

Quack doctor nabbed

A quack operating a Medical Centre in Talawakelle for over two years and posing as a doctor was recently arrested and produced before the Nuwara Eliya District Chief Magistrate. The Centre originally owned by a qualified doctor had been allegedly sold to the present owner who had allegedly performed abortions as well.

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