Kudos for our healthcare
Sri Lanka has once again won international acclaim for
the quality of her healthcare system with the country's
achievement in the area of maternity care and sharp decline in
infant mortality rates coming for high praise from the UNICEF.
As reported in our main story today Sri Lanka has been cited
as a model for other developing nations in the scaling up
services for infants and mothers and in slashing maternal and
neo natal mortality rates.
UNICEF's latest 'State of the World's Children' report has
attributed this not only to the quality of our health care
system but the overall development of structures that has served
to raise awareness coupled with enhanced welfare measures. Sri
Lanka has today scaled new heights in a host of social indices
and our health care system is pre-eminent among these. This can
be understood in the context that our Health budget is only
second to the Defence Budget.
Today the country's Health sector has reached out into
various fields uncharted in the past. One of them is the special
attention paid to the nutritional needs of the pregnant women
and the new born with several follow up measures to ensure their
Enlightenment through Education has also played a significant
part to ensure safe births and the healthy post natal passage.
The Mahinda Chintana has a lengthy chapter on child and
maternity care which is being implemented in earnest.
All this is part and parcel of a health care service that is
among the best in Asia and no longer do we see the mad rush
among the affluent to seek treatment in oversees hospitals. As
already mentioned we are there at the top with the rest. The
quality of our Health service is such it today covers all
aspects from preventive health to post natal care and follow up
measures which were available only to the rich in the past. This
has brought positive results as seen from the latest plaudits
received in the area of maternity and child birth from the
international health watchdog body.
The UNICEF report states "Sri Lanka is a strong example of
how the health and survival of mothers and their new born are
linked and how many of the interventions that save new mothers'
lives also benefit their infants. Since 1990 the under-five
mortality rate has dropped from 32 per 1000 live births to 13
per 1000 in 2000.
While acknowledging there are yet challenges such as
under-nutrition and regional disparities in terms of maternal
care the UNICEF representative in Sri Lanka says the overall
picture of maternal and neo natal health is one of remarkable
progress over the past decades.
Sri Lanka certainly can take pride in this achievement
particularly to be held up as a model to the developing world.
The country no doubt has come a long way from the days where
ignorance more than anything contributed to high maternity
deaths and infant mortality. Our Health care system has improved
to such a degree this phenomenon is now arrested and a wider
section provided the know how and advice to cope with
The rise in awareness coupled with the various welfare
schemes and assistance provided in the sphere of maternity care
too have helped a great measure.
Like the UNICEF report notes "medical intervention alone was
not the key." Measures to empower women through education,
employment and social engagement also has had a positive impact
on the mother and children".
Boost for tea smallholders
The Rs.2,250 million subsidy granted to tea
smallholders on a bag of fertilizer it is hoped would help
revive the depressed tea industry reeling from a slump in
prices. The Government should be commended for taking steps to
pull the industry back on it's feet with various concessions
already in place.This is more so since this is an industry which
was once the mainstay of the country's economy until it was
pipped to the post by garments and foreign remittances. As such
every effort should be taken to see it reach it's pre-eminent
position. The subsidy is bound to pay dividends in the long run.
Sri Lanka in most parts of the world is still known for it's
tea which was at one time it's trade mark. Saying that there is
a need to go for value added if our tea is to go places in the
international market and future subsidies offered by the
Government should be done with this object in view. We say this
because most countries which were far behind us in the
international market have today overtaken us in marketing their
tea due to this feature.