|Tuesday, 1 March 2005|
Please forward your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org in plain text format within the e-mail message, since as a policy we do not open any attachments.
Post-tsunami preventive health work
I am writing this letter after reading the speech reportedly made by Minister of Industries, Tourism and Investment Promotion Anura Bandaranaike, in Milan, Italy, at a conference organised by the Government of Italy. He spoke, inter alia, of a critical matter that has not received its due appreciation by the general public.
I refer to the work done by our doctors, nurses and health staff in all tsunami affected areas in the country. Let me quote Mr. Bandaranaike.
"The timely precautionary measures initiated by the health authorities and our talented doctors, who worked 24 hours daily, effectively arrested the possible post-tsunami epidemics in affected areas, which, I believe, has had a strong impact on the current upward trend in the recovery process."
Epidemics of water-borne diseases such as cholera, bacillary dysentery, typhoid and respiratory conditions such as influenza and pneumonia are recorded throughout history undermining and aggravating emergency relief work of natural disasters.
This is not the place or times to give a lesson in preventive medicine.
It is suffice to know that the main reasons for post-disaster epidemics are faecal pollution of drinking water, overcrowding at camps, limited facilities for personal hygiene, mental distress, presence of children and old people among the affected.
The brine that inundated land, water in wells and streams effectively prevented bacteria from multiplication. But the critical factor was the immediate and enormous islandwide preventive action taken, as Minister Bandaranaike says, by our talented doctors.
In the past, I was perhaps the most severe critic of colleagues and my students, as a Medical Administrator, Director of Epidemiolgy and Special Campaigns, President of the Sri Lanka College of Community Medicine and a teacher. In the estimation of the general public, doctors and nurses are regarded with contempt for their chronic proclivity to trade unions strikes.
But there can be no doubt that even they, and organizations such as WHO, UNICEF will gladly, fully endorse the praise of Minister Bandaranaike.
We must not forget, as he remembered, the contributions from our colleagues and institutions in many parts of the world such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Singapore, UK, USA, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, Finland, Russia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea and Middle East, with personnel, equipment, tents, drugs and dressings, operating theatres, without forgetting also the empathy of expatriates in these countries. A medical historian like Dr. H. C. Uragoda should research this and record it for posterity.
DR. KINGSLEY HEENDENIYA - Nugegoda.
Ragging at the Medical Faculty University of Jaffna
We are perturbed and shocked to read the news item published in some newspapers on 18.02.2004 stating that "Tigers back tough Ragging at Jaffna campus against Sinhalese and Muslim students admitted to the Medical Faculty, University of Jaffna".
In the long history of the Medical Students' Union , we have been treating all the students of the medical faculty without any ethnic discrimination. It is clear that the Sinhalese and Muslim freshers wanted a transfer to faculties nearer home and are using the ethnic conflict as a ploy.
Sinhalese and Muslim doctors have passed out from Jaffna in the past. At the moment there are twenty three 3rd year Sinhala Medical students and six Muslim students at the Jaffna University. They have the freedom to observe their religion. They do not face any security risk.
Even before the new students were admitted, the Medical Students' Union issued a statement cautioning the senior students to desist from causing any inconvenience to the freshers.
We also assured the University administration of our co-operation in case it receives any complaint by freshers affected.
We also desire to state that we made arrangements to look after their basic needs advised them and to have contact with our student counsellor in order to protect themselves from any kind of harassment.
None of these Sinhalese and Muslim freshers had ever made a complaint about ragging or ever made a complaint about the lack of basic needs. They vanished from Jaffna without any word after borrowing medical books and notebooks from our students.
Even now there is one Muslim fresher still following her course without inconvenience or the so-called 'harassment'.
We wish to state categorically that if they give report of any specific incidence, we are willing to co-operate with the administration to punish the involved students.
Outstation students manipulating transfers through politicians is nothing new. In 2002, the Muslim students got transfers en masse soon after their welcome party.
The insinuation made against 'a group backed by the LTTE' is malicious. The LTTE or any other political forces have not involved in students and administrative matters.
The accusation made against our faculty is unfortunate - especially so since it has been struggling for survival during the twenty years of war.
President, Medical students' Union, Faculty of Medicine, University of Jaffna.
Inflation rate and the interest rate
Today the inflation rate (point to point) has risen to almost 14% while earned interest rate on secured deposits is in the range of 7.5-8.0% reflecting a considerable loss for the investor.
Central Bank of Sri Lanka has taken timely measures to safeguard the economy and it reiterates that the interest rates will not be risen.
In the meantime, colossal amounts of foreign exchange are due to Sri Lanka and with this speculation SL, Rupee has appreciated considerably but the actual benefit has so far not been passed on to the consumer. Stabilising the SL Rupee against the US Dollar is acceptable to safeguard the exporters.
Although the prevailing interest rates are attractive for the investors of the business forum, one has to realise that the large amounts of deposit holders of the country are also a part of the development in the economy.
While the business community enjoy a considerable return with the prevailing interest rates, the deposit holders are facing a negative impact by losing 4-5% annually. This position has to be reviewed and considered as a measure of poverty alleviation.
With these low interest rates on deposits, people have resorted to various other instruments with high risks. Although some people articulate that the booming of the stock market is an economic indicator, in real terms, it is not so, because during certain days large amount of shares are moving where there are no fundamentals or financial stability while shares with sound fundamentals are stagnating.
This reveals the mentality of the people who try to earn some return, with the lack of the knowledge in the stock market mainly because they cannot survive with the interest rate they earn from the banks against the inflation rate prevailing to-day.
While appreciating the good work implemented by the General Treasury and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, we hope that some remedial action could be adopted to ease this situation in the near future.
MANGALIKA WIJETUNGA - Mattegoda.
I have lived abroad in three different countries for over 30 years since early 1970s. However I get to Sri Lanka at least once a year, more often 2 to 3 times and consider myself very much a Sri Lankan.
I do keep in touch with family/friends through letters, email, as well as phone calls.
I also read the daily papers, news items both on the internet as well as in other print services.
I appreciate there are difficulties, but these will not justify the pathetic state of the postal services.
It is inefficient, the word service is not in the radar screen of any of the service providers from the top to the very bottom, and it is corrupt too.
Here are few examples: All these letters etc. I will be happy to forward to you or call over to present when I get to Sri Lanka in Feb. 2005.
(a) An aerogramme dated July 25, 2004 mailed at Hikkaduwa reached me here in Vancouver on November 30.
(b) An aerogramme dated Oct. 8 mailed from Hikkaduwa reached me here on Dec. 13.
(c) An aerogramme dated May 22 mailed in Colombo reached me here on 30/11.
(d) An aerogramme dated Sept. 6 mailed in Colombo got me here on 14/12.
(e) An aerogramme dated Nov. 7 mailed from Hikkaduwa reached me here on November 29.
(f) A reg. letter mailed from WTO, Reg No. 3690, mailed on Oct. 29 reached me here on Dec 20. I am sure if you care to you can check why and how this was delayed.
What I do with my mail to Sri Lanka is I send two or three in one envelope to my former office in Bangkok and they register these to Sri Lanka parties.
You may wonder why I do not reg. here, yes this is expensive, it costs around C$10 or Rs. 6/700 if I reg. here, while in Bangkok it costs around C$1 or Rs. 60.
Also I can trust mail both in Canada and Thailand, and so far for the past five years I have not lost one letter mailed by ordinary mail, and these get to the destination in five to six working days, not five to six months like what seem to happen in Sri Lanka.
It is a very sad commentary on your inefficient and corrupt postal system, where most of the incoming overseas mail is opened by the staff to check for cash.
RANJITH G. DE SILVA - Canada .
Spoken English and broken English
Advertisements like 'Spoken English within three months' is one that appears in all weekend newspapers with charges mentioned in thousands of rupees and that only a few vacancies are available.
Those who have a great inquisitive to learn that language in such a small period rush to enroll themselves not to miss the opportunity.
However, after three months, having finished their course, they cannot converse not only at the lowest level but even 'broken English'.
They will be able to reply a question only if such a question was learnt in their English class.
For instance, if the tutor had taught them 'I am going to market' for the question 'Where are you going?' it will be the same for all similar questions changing the word market to the place where he will be going, i.e. to temple, ground etc. according to the time and further any other reason which he wanted to add.
Speaking English perfectly is not so much an easy matter.
An English medium student those days had six or seven subjects a day for five or six hours learning different words from every subject and had to continue for over 10 years.
He also had English reading, writing, dictation and gathered vocabulary, grammar, tenses etc. into his mind by which he was able to converse fairly.
So when the requirements are such for speaking of good English, how could this be done within three months.
Working people and students are thus fooled.
NAZLY CASSIM - Colombo 13.
Produced by Lake House