Fake News | Daily News

Fake News

The news story in the media yesterday that a prefect of a girls’ school in the Minuwangoda Education Zone had brought tender coconut kernel (polmada) for lunch is Fake News.

On a directive of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the President’s Office initiated a special programme to assist such child/family experiencing economic difficulties. Such people can contact the President’s Office for any help on the hotline 0114 354647 or 0114 354354.

However, it is true that some students in rural areas are attending schools without breakfast due to poverty. Last week too newspapers reported that several students in a number of schools in Thanthirimale had reportedly fainted during the daily assembly, forcing the school authorities to cut short the assemblies.

Although the Ministry rejects the findings of world bodies such as UNICEF and World Food Programme that as much as 6.3 million people in Sri Lanka are skipping meals, we cannot totally reject it.

Hence, the immediate duty of the authorities is to arrest this trend. The relief granted in the recent Budget to the poorest segments apparently has not been properly targeted. So is the UNICEF assistance, which, according to reports, has reached only 1.7 million persons. Prompt steps should be taken to identify those in dire need of sustenance, lest people start dying of hunger.

The President’s Office should gather information on the most needy in society and action taken. Judging by the unfolding scenario, the Government alone would not be able to tackle the problem.

First, it does not have the resources. Second, the problem has grown too large for the Government to handle with the available machinery and logistics. A collective effort has to be made by all to reach out to the affected. The private sector and big business could play a significant role in ameliorating the conditions of malnourished victims.

The teachers and school principals should be commended for providing temporary relief to poor students by bringing meals from their homes even though their own financial resources are limited. Some schools have even opened ‘Help Centres’ to cater to hungry students. The role played by TV channels with the sponsorship of private sector organisations to feed the hungry in the villages is also commendable.

However, all this will not help in the long run. We are constantly told that the economic slump would take at least another two years to put right and the public should prepare for hard times. Well, the situation could not have gotten harder and what will happen by the end of two years will be anybody’s guess.

The Government is certainly in a bind. There are five fuel ships reportedly berthed in the outer harbour still awaiting unloading due to the unavailability of dollars. A prolonged power cut too is in the offing by the middle of next month if the country does not receive the next consignment of coal.

The promised US$ 2.9 billion IMF bailout package too will not be ready anytime soon with Japan too warning that the Government should not sit on the IMF guarantee and should find other ways to resuscitate the economy. And now we have acute malnutrition threatening the well-being of a significant section of the population. Worse, there is a chronic shortage of medicines in Government and private hospitals and the ordinary people are unable to afford the drugs sold in pharmacies.

The unavailability of certain vital drugs has posed a problem even to the wealthy who can somehow afford the astronomical prices. The situation is fraught with grave danger since the sick and the ailing are now forced to ration their prescribed dosage as a means of prolonging the time when the next visit to the pharmacy could be made, as a means of fighting the high costs. This could bring with it dire results, since, according to a medical specialist, the results of skipping drug dosages would be evident only months later by which time the damage done would be irreversible.

Hence, the Government certainly is in an unenviable position hemmed in on all fronts. It is in this context that the promise by India not to let down its island neighbour at a time of great difficulty and that all assistance would be forthcoming unfailingly should be a source of great encouragement to the Government doing battle on multiple fronts.


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