Is five star drinking water safe?
The Health Ministry is in the process of
testing drinking water available in all hotels, restaurants and super
markets in the country
Drinking water is one of the most important things for human beings.
It is second only to fresh air. Therefore no need of stressing the
importance of safe drinking water and the water we use to prepare our
But when considering the large number of public complaints flowing
into the Health Ministry, we have to double check the standards of water
used by hotels and restaurants and all the other eating houses in
cities. We have to be careful about the water they use especially when
it comes to Colombo city and suburbs.
We must check manufacture and expiry dates including the sealed
bottled top before buying bottles drinking water. The registered number
printed in the neck area of the plastic water bottle is another
important piece of information.
This is the only way of ensuring the safety of bottled drinking
water. Water taken from tube wells located inside hotel premises is not
healthy to drink. This applies to all hotels and restaurants located
inside big cities, especially Colombo. Consumers should keep this piece
of information in mind.
During an official visit, I found one restaurant located in the
Anuradhapura city which sold refilled bottle water. This means after
using the original water bottle (filled by a registered company), the
restaurant itself filled the same bottle with tap/well water and sold to
consumers who visited the restaurant. The bottles did not have sealed
tops. It was obvious that the water was contaminated with foreign
particles and other stuff floating inside the bottle. The same problems
exist at Sigiriya.
The Ministry commenced this inspection after receiving a significant
number of complaints from the public on unhygienic water available at
those places. The hotels and restaurants may look fine from the outer
appearance but they may be using water coming from toilets to cook food!
Health Ministry sources revealed that both bottled drinking water and
the water available at hotels, restaurants and other eating houses to be
examined during this process. The ministry authorities test the water at
site and also collect samples for further investigation. The ministry
has already been collected samples from around 100 eating houses in
Both bottled drinking water and water available at hotels,
restaurants and other eating houses to be examined during this process.
The ministry authorities test the water at site and also collect samples
for further investigation. The ministry has already been collected
samples from around 100 eating houses in Colombo.
A large number of complaints had been received by the ministry from
the public on unsafe drinking/cooking water. Some eating houses use tube
well water and it is not recommended to use tube well water in cities
because the water beds of cities have already been contaminated due to
under ground sewage systems. Therefore cities should always use pipe
born purified water provided by the National Water Supply and Drainage
There were a lot of public complaints against bottled drinking water.
Some bottles contain an amount of chlorine beyond the recommended limit
and some bottles do not have sealed top and the manufacturing and expiry
Some bottles available in rural areas have water filled from local
sources (tap or well water without purification). Bottled drinking water
is healthy. But not refilled or unregistered bottled drinking water.
The manufacturing and expiry dates are a must for bottled drinking
water. The bottle tops should be with sealed cover. It is up to the
consumers to double check drinking water bottles before paying money.
School bags - health issue
An epidemiological research was carried out in a representative
district of Sri Lanka with the participation of 1,607 school children on
Ergonomic factors in the educational environment and their influence on
school-going early adolescents.
This was stated by Family Health Bureau Health Schoolbag project
coordinator and Consultant community physician Dr Kapila Jayaratne when
speaking to Daily News Health Watch.
Many children experienced discomfort due to sub-standard seating
arrangements in the classroom. A significant proportion had to turn
their necks to see the blackboard. Seating locations were not changed
for many children.
There is wide-spread incompatibilities of classroom furniture with
anthropometric dimensions of children Majority of children perceived
discomfort due to mismatched furniture There were gross deficiencies
with regard to carrying school bags. Deficiencies were noted in weight,
model, ergonomic features and the carrying behaviour.
Children experienced several negative effects, such as
muscular-skeletal pain, attributable to mismatched ergonomic factors
Research outcomes further revealed that a majority of children carried
bags with unhealthy features and they were too heavy according to
international standards. Text books and other writing books accounted
for more than two thirds of the school bag weight. Bag behaviour was not
healthy. Many children reported negative health consequences. It is
evident that a 'big health issue' exists in Sri Lankan schools with
regard to carriage of school bags. These findings necessitated
formulation of feasible solutions with the involvement of major
We considered it important to translate research findings into
action. We adopted three strategies" Dissemination of research findings
Provision of feasible solutions Advocacy.
Research findings necessitated identification of priority areas and
formulation of feasible solutions to improve the current status. Taking
into account, several factors including feasibility of implementation
and acceptability by the adolescents and their parents, it was
considered that issues related to schoolbags should be a priority area
Solutions were contemplated on - strategies for bag-weight reduction,
introduction of a model healthy bag and bag behaviour changes.
The main conclusions were shared with Education Ministry and other
stakeholders. Dissemination of research findings through multitude of
mass media sensitized students, teachers, parents, general public and
administrators of health and education sectors.
Research outcomes were even shared at international forums to obtain
further inputs and update good practice evidence. Solutions were
contemplated on; strategies for bag weight reduction, introduction of a
model healthy bag and bag behaviour change.
When findings and recommended solutions were shared with the
Education Ministry for education authorities themselves to find
solutions to heavy schoolbag. Education Publication Department
Commissioner W M N J Pushpakumara took the lead role. He initiated
another research project to be undertaken to explore strategies to
lighten the schoolbag. Text books were split in to several volumes. Only
page-80 exercise books were recommended.
Introduction of the model school bag
The need for modelling a healthy schoolbag was imperative. Inputs
were obtained from the International Ergonomic Association and from
consultations with experts. Healthy bags designed ergonomically in other
countries were also studied.
School Health Unit of FHB, for their role, initiated designing a
model school bag. Dr Kapila Jayaratne, being a member of the Technical
Committee of International Ergonomic Association on Ergonomics for Child
Educational Environments (ECEE), consulted several international
ergonomic experts on healthy features of a bag.
Several bag models were studied and a sample schoolbag with ergonomic
features was manufactured to suit Sri Lankan contexts.
The model bag was evaluated by a team of experts including
Paediatricians, Orthopaedic Surgeons, Community Physicians,
Psycho-ergonomic consultants and Physiotherapists. It was field-tested
at a Colombo suburb school and children, teachers and principals
responded on local adaptability.
A healthy schoolbag adapted for Sri Lankan children was modelled
according to ergonomic standards. This sample bag was locally
manufactured based on an ergonomically designed healthy bags approved by
the Australian Chiropractic Association.
Once the sample bag was evaluated by experts and children,
recommendations were sent to the Education Ministry. Sri Lanka Standards
Institute was consulted for physical quality assurance.
Registration of bag manufacturers
Bag manufacturers were registered by the Education Ministry and they
were educated on the healthy bag concept.
A successful awareness program for bag manufacturers on healthy
schoolbag was held. More than 400 manufacturers from all over Sri Lanka
on participated at this meeting. Dr. Kapila Jayaratne, described the
research background: focusing on burden of the problem, why the
ergonomic features are essential to safeguard health of children and
what is expected from local manufacturers. Sri Lanka Standards Institute
Chamari Geeganage explained physical quality aspects and the process of
developing standards on schoolbag. Scientific Affairs (Senior) Minster
Prof Tissa Vitarana elaborated on registration procedure, evaluation of
bags by the National Advisory Committee on Schoolbag, the process of
awarding logo of the 'healthy schoolbag' and post-market surveillance
system for quality assurance.
The project was pioneered under the supervisory guidance of Prof
Induction of Dr Pranitha Somaratne
Induction of Dr Pranitha Somaratne as the President of the Sri Lanka
College of Microbiologists for the year 2010/11 took place recently.
Here Dr Omala Wimalarathne (right) outgoing President congratulates Dr
Pranitha Somaratne on her induction as President of the Sri Lanka
College of Microbiologists.
Dr Shantha Hettiarachchi launches two books
Two new books written by Dr Shantha Hettiarachchi, have been
published recently. The book in Sinhala, named Sexually transmitted
infections, sexuality and society was published by Wijesuriya
publishers. The book in English named Towards Healthy Living was
published by Godage publishers.
The problems related to sexually transmitted infections and sexuality
in the country were extensively discussed with the available solutions
in the book of Sexually transmitted infections, sexuality and society
under twenty different topics, medically and socially.
The author in his preface to the book, says that patients seeking
solutions to problems related to sexuality or sexually transmitted
infections, were the key resources of most chapters of this book.
Professor Carlo Fonseka in his foreword states that the author's
objective is to spread awareness to the people by using his clinical
Current common health topics, including HIV/AIDS and sexually
transmitted infections, illegal abortions, drug abuse, alcohol, tobacco
smoking, stress, non communicable diseases, diabetes mellitus, medically
unexplained symptoms, vitamins and food supplements, drug consumption,
sleep, flu, cervical cancer, food and water borne diseases, thalassaemia
and leprosy were discussed in the book of Towards Healthy Living.
The author says in his preface that the purpose of writing this book
is to provide simple and practical guidelines for a happy life.
Edwin Ariyadasa, media consultant has mentioned in the foreword to
the book, that although some of these subjects may emerge into, sudden
prominence, making them 'topical' they represent perpetual concerns of
the society and in consequence, the articles Dr Shantha Hettirachchi has
anthologized in this publication have a perennial value.
He further says that this is the kind of book, that every institution
and every home should possess, for ready reference.
Foreword to Towards Healthy Living - Edwin Ariyadasa
Dr Shantha Hettiarachchi has earned a well deserved reputation as an
outstanding communicator of essential information, relating primarily to
the fields of Health and Medicine. Making ample use of print and
electronic media, Dr Shantha Hettiarachchi, has continued steadily to
build awareness among various publics, about issues that are centrally
important for the achievement of the ideal of healthy living.
Most of the articles he contributes to print media and many of the
talks he presents through Radio and Television, tend to possess a
special contemporary relevance. This is largely because he concentrates
mostly on issues of topical interest.
Although some of these subjects may emerge into, sudden prominence,
making them 'topical', they represent perpetual concerns of society. In
consequence, the articles Dr Shantha has anthologized in this
publication titled Towards Healthy Living, have a perennial value.
What is of high significance about this publication is, that, the
subject-matter of the articles is wholly authentic. As an outcome of
this guaranteed reliability, the readers of this book can utilize the
information given in it, with complete confidence.
Over the years, Dr Shantha has amassed knowledge and expertise,
through his professional postings and his extensive participation in
seminars, workshops and Training Courses- both here and abroad. Capacity
for communication is almost a built-in facet of his personality. His
continued association with the Health Education Bureau Mass
Communication and Publicity Coordinator offered him a vantage point to
obtain an in-depth awareness of the practical aspects of communication.
The history of his own practice of communication is fairly
long-spanning several decades. By providing vital information with stark
responsibility, about matters relating to Health and Medicine, Dr
Shantha performs a praiseworthy public service.
His article on Sexually Transmitted Infections is a case in point.
This is an area overwhelmed with fallacies and misconceptions -
especially because public discourse is rare, about this kind of issue.
In his clearly articulated exposition on STI, Dr Shantha dispels the
misunderstandings that have plagued the irresponsible public discussions
about this issue. Dr Shantha's book is replete with guidelines that
indicate the path Towards Healthy Living.
This is the kind of book, that every institution and every home
should possess, for ready reference. I am quite certain that, Dr Shantha
Hettirachchi's services to the country as an articulate and responsible
communicator on vital issues related to Healthy Living, will always be
forthcoming for the 'good of the many-for the well-being of the many'.
Correction and Clarification
It was Prof Gita Fernando
The correct spelling of the name of the author of the article titled
Use of antibiotics that appeared in this page last week was Gita
Fernando, we were informed by the author.