|Monday, 26 January 2004|
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Peace not war
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in a nationally televised interview last Friday reiterated her firm commitment to peace.
In the interview with Harim Peiris telecast by Rupavahini's Channel Eye, the President who during her entire political career has been dedicated to peace and harmony among the people of this country, made a clear and succinct statement that the SLFP-JVP alliance seeks a negotiated settlement to the ethnic problem and it was totally against war.
In making this categorical declaration the President effectively shot down the vile rumours and allegations made by some senior members of the Government including the Prime Minister and the double, speak 'professori' who made a despicable, but absolutely futile attempt to attribute their failure to revive the peace negotiations which have been stalled since June last year, to the President taking over the Defence, Interior and Media portfolios.
Qualifying her statement President Kumaratunga said, "the alliance does not in anyway encourage armed conflict or war. The JVP has also accepted the SLFP and PA's constant, consistent position that we are all for a negotiated settlement".
President Kumaratunga reiterated that she stood by the ceasefire agreement as stated two and half months ago and said, "We have done nothing at all to disturb the ceasefire agreement".
In her characteristically frank and forthright manner president Kumaratunga said, "I want to reiterate the SLFP's and my commitment to resolve the ethnic question while safeguarding the rights of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims".
There was also the very welcome news given us by Japanese Special Peace Envoy Yasushi Akashi, who chaired last week's donor meeting in Colombo, that donor nations will continue with financial assistance. Commenting on the impact of the SLFP -JVP alliance on the peace process Akashi said in a reading of its MoU, the two parties had the demonstrated a "painful effort for a negotiated settlement with the LTTE".
He said the Tigers have said that they will talk peace with anyone who comes out with authority and a mandate to implement the ceasefire and the peace process. This laid low another lie being perpetrated by the UNF Government, that the aid donors were withholding aid due to the President having taken over the three Ministries.
With its desperate attempt to shift the blame for its failure to resume the peace negotiations the United Front Government now stands naked with all its ugly warts, before the people of this country and the international community.
The Diabetes challenge
On Saturday, we read the good news that a Lankan medical researcher is reported to have achieved a major breakthrough by finding a permanent cure for diabetes. Researcher Lanka Jayasekara claims to have already cured more than 100 patients.
Obviously, more evidence will be required to verify his claims, but any progress towards a cure for diabetes will be warmly welcomed by those who suffer from this debilitating disease and by the international medical community.
Diabetes is caused by a condition in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starch and other food into energy. Although diabetes is a pandemic with more than 180 million victims around the world, it rarely hits the headlines unlike diseases such as AIDS and SARS.
Minimal media exposure is one of the reasons why most people have little or no idea of diabetes, its symptoms and causes. In fact, studies have shown that up to one-third of diabetes sufferers do not even know about their condition. By the time they seek treatment, the disease is usually at an advanced stage.
Health authorities should thus take steps to raise public awareness of diabetes, through media, seminars and posters. There are specialised institutions such as the National Diabetes Centre which can be involved in this exercise.
Such as awareness campaign should highlight the fact that anyone can get diabetes, irrespective of age. It should point out that diabetes can be controlled, if not cured in the strict sense of the word. The campaign should also make it clear that diabetes, if not treated, could even lead to blindness. But the theme of the message should be that a healthy lifestyle could keep diabetes at bay.
Health has taken a backseat in our hectic, 24/7 lives. There is no time for exercise and high-fat, high-sugar junk food has replaced healthy alternatives. A brisk walk every day and healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables can go a long way towards preventing diabetes. Such an approach, coupled with a home-grown diabetes treatment, will enable health authorities to save foreign exchange and channel more funds for taming deadlier diseases.
Produced by Lake House