WHO invites Sri Lankan surgeon for two consultations
The WHO has invited Consultant Surgeon Dr Wijaya Godakumbura for two
consultations. One was held a month ago in Geneva to formulate âA five
year strategy on burn preventionâ, while the other is to be held in
Manila next week in connection with âThe World Report on Child and
Adolescent Injury Preventionâ, for which he has been invited as a
Temporary Advisor to the Regional Director.
Dr. Godakumbura has been chosen as a participant because of the
pioneering burn prevention work he has
Dr. Godakumbura (center) in Geneva.
been doing for many years. âThe
vast majority of burns could be preventedâ , says the International
Society for Burn Injuries.
âWe must ask ourselves what we can do to prevent themâ? Burns are of
special significance to low and middle income countries (LMICs) like Sri
Lanka. This is what the Journal of the Royal Institute of Public Health
had stated last year in an article written by Dr Y S Lau of the Oxford
âBurns are one of the most devastating conditions encountered in
medicine. Yet, burn management in Sri Lanka is fraught with
difficulties; the lack of government initiative precludes effective
A successful prevention campaign is conducted by the Safe Bottle Lamp
Foundation, which has justifiably received international acclaim. It was
founded by Sri Lankan General Surgeon, Dr. Wijaya Godakumbura....â.
The international acclaim Dr. Lau is referring to, is the winning of
the Rolex, Readerâs Digest and Lindbergh Awards and publicity in several
prestigious magazines, CNN and Voice of America.
Nearly 30 per cent of the population in Sri Lanka still use kerosene
due to lack of electricity and many use
Dr. Godakumbura at the conference
make shift unsafe lamps that
topple easily and cause serous burns, which often result in severe
scarring and some times in death.
The Safe Bottle Lamp Foundation has replaced 750,000 unsafe lamps
with their âSudeepaâ safe lamps, while giving valuable advice to the
public on first aid etc.
During his stay in Geneva Dr. Godakumbura was able to visit two
institutions. One was to the SL Embassy to make a presentation on his
work to a group of Sri Lankans in Geneva, who later made a donation to
The other was to the Rolex Awards Headquarters for an interview, as
they wanted to know the recent state of his project to publish another
article in the Rolex Journal.
The Safe Bottle Lamp Foundation would be grateful for donations to
maximize their humanitarian work. Their web site is
www.safebottlelamp.org and the e mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The
tele/fax number is 286 4847.
Three Cancer Specialists from Singapore to attend College of
Oncology Scientific sessions in Colombo
COLOMBO:Three cancer specialists from the Parkway Cancer Centre, and
the National cancer Centre Singapore will be in Colombo from June 27 to
July 1 to attend this yearâs annual scientific sessions of the Sri Lanka
College of Oncology starting in Colombo from June 28.
The three specialists are Dr. Lion Hong Liang a member of the Medical
Oncology Advisory committee of the Ministry of Health Singapore Dr. Kei-siong
Khoo Deputy Medical director, Senior Consultant Medical Oncologist and
Parkway cancer centre, Singapore and Dr. Anselm Chi-wai Lee,
consultant Paediatric Haematologist -Oncologist East shore Hospital,
Singapore. Daily News Medical page Health watch in association with
Parkway group Healthcare (Singapore) representive in Sri Lanka shuvo
Hridayesh is making arrangements for some of our cancer patients who
wish to consult them to do so at a talk on cancer we are organising in
Colombo for the benefit of Health Watch readers.
Those interested please write to Health watch cancer talk c/o
Features Editor Daily News Lake House D. R. Wijewardene Mawatha Colombo.
Dr. Kei-siong Khoo
Dr. Anselm Chi-wai Lee
Dr. Lion Hong Liang
Replies to readers queries
Sent by Maduri de Silva of Kitullamptiya, Galle.
What symptoms there could be on person after a heart attack!
Most patients are free of major symptoms after a heart attack, but
some complaints are quite common.
The symptoms depend on so many factors and those who have been
admitted within the first few hours after the heart attack to Intensive
Care Units (ICU) and given treatment e.g. thrombolytic drugs (such as
streptokinase), oxygen, anti-platelet agents (such as soluble aspirin),
heparin, betablockers and nitrates have less cardiac symptoms such as
angina than those who have been treated in medical wards or in patientsâ
Angina is a discomfort in the chest due to insufficient blood
reaching the heart muscle. It is situated mainly in the center of the
chest but may be felt on either side of chest or in the arm, jaw or
between the 2 scapular blades at the back of chest or in upper abdomen (epigastrium).
It is usually a tight or heavy feeling which is provoked by exercise
or stress but can sometimes occur at rest.
When angina a occurs at rest in spite of medical treatment, the
patient should be admitted to a hospital and should be investigated and
treated without delay.
Many heart attack patients have experienced angina previously and
they are more likely to have it again than those who have never had it
before. Angina is evidence that there is till a narrowed artery
supplying blood to the heart muscle.
It can usually be treated with medicines such as nitrates,
beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, anti-platelet agents (such as
soluble aspirin or clopidogrel) and ACE inhibitors.
If a patient who recently had a heart attack gets angina again
(post-infarction angina) the patient should be referred to a
cardiologist even if the resting ECG does not show any fresh ischaemic
changes, for a stress test (exercise ECG). If the exercise ECG is
negative, the patient should be subjected to a stress echo.
If either the stress test or stress echo is positive, the
cardiologist will arrange for a coronary angiogram with a view to
subjecting the patient to angioplasty (P.T.C.A.) or coronary artery
There are few patients who refuse angioplasty or C.A.B.G. through
fear or due to poor financial situation and pleads with the doctor to
give medical treatment. (An angioplasty procedure with stenting costs
anything between Rs. 400,000 to Rs. 1,000,000 or more whereas C.A.B.G.
procedure costs about Rs. 350,000.
I usually refer these patients for chelation therapy which relieves
angina in majority of those patients undergoing chelation, Exercise ECG
when repeated after the complete course of chelation therapy (C.T.)
shows improvement compared to exercise ECG done before chelation.
Reply to query on iodised salt
Last week we had a few questions on use of iodised salt in our food,
and in the livestock industry. L. U. de Silva from Battaramulla in his
Some years ago, the Government laid down by statute that all salt -
in loose or packeted form - sold in the market for consumption should be
iodised. But this was observed in the breach. About two years ago, the
Government re-activated this statute and consequently all salt sold
should necessarily be iodised.
A few problems come to my mind.
1. Has the Government got the necessary machinery and manpower to
ensure quality control in this iodisation process?
2. How reliable is the iodisation done by various firms in this
particular trade? Iodised salt produced by Lanka Salt Ltd and by
Puttalam Salt Ltd. May be reliable. But what about the others?
3. Is iodised salt good for all people? Earlier iodised salt was sold
only in goitre prone areas, like Gampola.
4. What about livestock? Is iodised salt good for animals?
I would like someone in authority in the Medical and Veterinary
departments to enlighten the people on these points.
Dr. Wanasinghe replies: Thank you for raising this salt matter, in
the HealthWatch which they have referred to me for a reply.
I agree with you that the Government should enforce the regulations
gazetted on this product, for quality, by getting the industry to state
in the packets the percentage of iodine in the salt.
This is essential as you say that while the people can depend on the
quality of the product marketed by Puttalam Salt and Lanka Salt Ltd.,
the same reliance cannot be placed on most of the other brands in the
market, which do not carry quality assurance stamp.
Use of iodised salt in the livestock farms, improves the growth of
the animals, and doesnât cause any problems to man in the consumption of
milk and meat.
Readers who wish to ask any questions on veterinary issues, relating
to cattle, poultry, pets etc. could write to Dr. Wanasinghe direct, with
a copy to the HealthWatch sent separately.
Address: Dr. D. D. Wanasinghe, C/o NAC, No. 503, Jayawardenapura
Mawatha, Ethul Kotte, Kotte.
Harmful effect of excessive laptop use
MUMBAI: Corporate hi-fliers who rarely step out without their
data-loaded laptops will hate this, but doctors in Mumbai believe the
device is a growing source of ill-health.
Tingling sensation in the fingers, strained tendons and sore
shoulders are the price young and ambitious are paying for clicking
non-stop on their laptops, according to a study done by occupational
therapists in Mumbai.
âBusy office-goers are using laptops way over the recommended
two-hour period,â says S R Pingle of the Indian Association of
Occupational Health, studying the habits of executives in two leading
The laptop craze is growing at an amazing pace in the Mumbai,
especially after the advent of affordable brands a couple of years back.
Corporate or self-employed persons can be seen glued to the LCD
screen not just in airports, but even in crowded first-class
compartments of trains.
Hep B-schoolers, jet-setting executives and self-assured corporate
honchos refuse to step out to work â or even that cursory chotta sa
break â without the convenience and connectivity of a laptop.
In the West, the dependence has grown even further. An international
survey carried in Time magazine last week showed that one in five
holidayers usually take their laptops along even on vacations.
The favourite excuse as the Mumbai study found was that essential
office data is stored on the laptop. âLaptops are meant to be used for a
short-time period, but executives are using them instead of their
desktop computers in offices as well as homes,â adds Pingle.
While the erudite crowd that logs on to laptops understand ergonomics
(the science of fitting workplace equipment to maximise a workerâs
productivity), few seem to understand the damage done by excessive
Take Navi Mumbai resident Vijay Habbu (50), who is self-admittedly
A senior executive in a corporate house, Habbu says he uses his
laptop for over nine hours every day.
âI had developed a ganglion (bunching of nerves) on my wrist, working
on the computer, which got further aggravated when I shifted to
regularly using the laptop,â says Habbu. Nailing the diagnosis wasnât
too difficult for him.
âThere was a clear correlation. When I was on leave and didnât use
the laptop, I had no complaints,â he says.
The problem is that laptops are not ergonomically designed to be used
for prolonged hours.
âThe keys in a laptop are cramped. Moreover, most computer users
havenât learnt typing and tend to use one or two fingers which puts
pressure on the hand,â explains Pingle.
Those who slouch over their laptops for long hours particularly
complain of back and neck spasms or posture-related problems, says
consultant and upper-limb surgeon at Bombay Hospital Parag Munshi.
âMany also come in with strained tendons as their wrists are flexed
in extreme positions,â he says.
The Cornell University Ergonomics website has a basic explanation as
to why prolonged use of laptops can be tough on the body.
âThe reason is simple â with a fixed design, if the keyboard is in an
optimal position for the user, the screen isnât and if the screen is
optimal the keyboard isnât.â
Hearteningly, timely interventions can bring a lot of relief. âSince
I canât work without my laptop, I always carry an external mouse which I
attach to my system,â says 45-year-old managerial executive Karunidhi.
Habbu, too, agrees that the move to an external mouse has given him
20% relief, though he still occasionally pops in pain-killers.
Doctors say preventive measures can keep away pain. âSuch problems
are usually caused by recurrent movements for prolonged periods.
People should try and maintain the position of neck and back in
neutral position,â advises KEM Hospitalâs head of orthopaedic department
Dr V J Lahiri. Munshi, who calls the laptop-related ailments âtransient
and temporaryâ, says frequent users need conservative management which
includes rest as well as âcorrect postureâ.
Times Of India