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DateLine Tuesday, 3 March 2009

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Opposition taught good lesson at NWP and Central Provincial polls

When we have a close look at the recent results of the NWP Provincial Elections, it is very clear that political parties that are represented by unpatriotic leaders have been rejected by the general public.

Those who supported the LTTE directly and indirectly were rejected and people of this country always admire the politicians who try to save our motherland from brutal and inhuman terrorists.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa who upholds democracy in our country is a people-friendly leader who considers country and Sri Lankans as the most important treasures. Opposition political leaders were taught a good lesson at the NWP and Central Provincial polls by the patriotic citizens this time.

The same fate will be for unpatriotic leaders during the forthcoming Parliamentary elections too. Therefore, this is high time for selfish and unpatriotic leaders to adjust their weaknesses and views for the good of our motherland. Those leaders should not be jealous of the present Government.

Wimal Weerawansa, the Leader of National Freedom Front should be admired for his great contribution towards encouraging citizens of this country to tread on the right path towards the future prosperity of Sri Lanka. Patriotic leaders who condemn terrorism must join hands with President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Now, people know the genuine patriots and cunning traitors of this country.

In the name of democracy, all forces against our freedom must be crushed in the future through the votes of our people and all internal and external foes of this country should be wiped out by the wise people of Mother Sri Lanka.

The efforts of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to develop our country economically while fighting the most brutal terrorist organisation the LTTE are commendable and all peace-loving people should give their fullest co-operation to him to bring everlasting peace to this country.


Fuel from plastic

This is a great idea to have petrol from plastics. I wonder what are the implications with plastic petrol if we use in the conventional cars such as insurance cover, warranty cover, as this new petrol does not cover in that policies.


Pensioners’ rights usurped

Pensioners have been paid less Rs. 50 in January states a reader from Dambulla on February 21. He states further that this sum was recovered arbitrarily by the Director of Pensions without the prior knowledge or concurrence of the pensioners for a holiday home project unknown to them. Although the purpose seems good, the means to that end is bad. It is not the amount that matters but the way it is done.

The monthly pension paid to a retired public servant is neither a dole nor a charity allowance. It is an entitlement paid under the provisions of the Pensions Minute. None can, therefore, interfere with that grant. Any recovery from the monthly entitlement has to be made with the prior knowledge and consent of the individual pensioner. The Director of Pensions has obviously overstepped his authority by taking his arbitrary decision.

That aside, there is a pensioners’ insurance fund which can easily be utilised for pensioners’ welfare, such as holiday homes or even meditation centres.


Obscene visuals vitiates young minds

It is disheartening to observe that obscene literature is so accessible to the young through TV, movies, books, magazines etc. published in Sri Lanka that it vitiates the behaviour to a great extent.

It is a common scene in public places that half naked photos are appearing in posters pasted on the walls of buildings. ‘Adults Only’ movies are advertised with nude images in public places where not only the adults but also children move about. It is a travesty of the truth that ‘Adults Only’ will be observed only inside the theatre not outside the theatre.

The Government authorities should pay attention to this violation of rules and take drastic action against the owners of cinema by cancelling their licences.


Prevention of Breast Cancer

I write with reference to an article titled ‘Prevention of Breast Cancer’ published on DN on February 23 by Dr. D.P. Athukorale. Cancer prevention is not that easy or as straight-forward as preventing Polio by immunisation or for that matter preventing HIV infection and AIDS and some measures can be very expensive.

Breast cancer (BC) is probably the most common and second deadliest cancer in women. Major risk factors for breast cancer in women are advancing age, genetic predisposition and oestrogen exposure. Approximately 85 per cent of breast cancers occur after women reach 50 years of age. Even in older age groups, many women must be screened in order to identify a single cancer.

With regard to genetic risk, it is important for the readers to know that even though a family history of breast cancer is common in women who develop breast cancer, only 5 to 6 per cent of all breast cancers are associated with germline (inherited) genetic mutations.

The majority of these involve two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 and testing for mutations in these genes while commercially available is prohibitively expensive. Women with multiple first-degree relatives with premenopausal breast cancer are the ones most at risk and likely to carry the genes.

For women over 50 years of age with average risk, Breast Self Examination (BSE) has been suggested as a simple screening procedure. However, the efficacy of Breast Self Examination (BSE) is unproven.

The consensus in the developed countries (as stated in a subscriber web site of clinical updates) is that BSE not be performed except by women who express a desire to do so and who have received careful instruction to differentiate normal tissue from suspicious lumps.

Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) is a better alternative. Available indirect evidence supports the effectiveness of CBE for breast cancer screening. However, CBE is difficult to standardise and takes around 10 minutes. Given the workload of our doctors this may be asking a lot.

The authors of the update (last in October 2008) concluded that women between the ages of 50 and 70 be screened with mammography. For women between the ages of 40 and 50, the risks and benefits of mammography should be discussed with their clinician and the decision to perform mammography should be determined by individual patient values. Given the high cost of mammography and limited facilities for the test, in our context one wonders whether the cut off age could be 60 and not 50 years especially for those with no family history and even then whether CBE alone would suffice?

What about the changes in lifestyle factors that may reduce risk of breast cancer? They can be adopted very widely and at no significant cost to the individual.

Among the dietary factors, animal and ecologic (international) studies show a positive correlation between fat consumption and increased breast cancer risk. The greatest benefit is in women who have a high fat intake prior to commencing a low fat diet. A high intake of soy has been shown to reduce BC in Asian women.

Increased flavonoids found in tomatoes, green peppers, berries and citrus fruits have been associated with a modest decrease in breast cancer risk in Western populations. While one study seemed to suggest that BC was associated with a high intake of refined carbohydrates, large cohort studies have not confirmed this finding.

Neither Vitamin C nor Vitamin E supplementation was beneficial for prevention of the cancers. Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancers of the colon, breast, oropharynx and esophagus. While moderate alcohol use has some beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, consumption of as little as one drink per day has been associated with an increased cancer risk.

Physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of colon and breast cancer. The association between physical activity and decreased risk for breast and colon cancer has been demonstrated across levels of obesity, suggesting that the protective effect of activity goes beyond its impact on body weight. The optimal duration, intensity and frequency of physical activity that may afford cancer protection is unknown.

For women who have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to breast and ovarian cancer, the authors concluded that the available options of prophylactic surgery, intensified surveillance and chemoprevention should be explained in detail and the comparative benefits of each of these strategies discussed with each patient and her family.

Although the strategy of bilateral oophorectomy (removal of ovaries) and mastectomy may provide the greatest degree of risk reduction, the impact on quality of life cannot be trivialised and residual risks for malignancies remain.

Tamoxifen is an anti-oestrogen drug. It is beneficial for both primary and secondary prevention in high-risk women. Recent studies show that a newer anti-oestrogen Raloxifene when approved may be better as it has less of the side effects mentioned by Dr. A. There is no clear ‘best’ choice among these alternatives; it is highly dependent upon the patient’s own set of values. The clinician’s job is to make the information about each option as clear as possible and to support the patient in the decision-making process.


Modern office building for Sri Lanka Ports Authority

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority is one of the best managed corporations in the public sector. Since it was established on August 1, 1979, millions of rupees have been paid to the Inland Revenue Department and to the Treasury from its earnings.

But it is very unfortunate that the SLPA has not been able to have a proper building to house all its different Divisions under one roof.

The offices of the Divisional Heads are scattered all over the Port from Elizabeth Quay area up to Jaya Container terminal.

As a result inconvenience caused to those who have dealings with the SLPA is tremendous.

The writer has seen fabulous main offices of the Ports of Singapore, Rotterdam, Madras. When you step in to these offices, you get a feeling how well these Ports are administered.

Government should encourage the SLPA to put up a modern building to house all its Divisions under one roof without any further delay.

I hope that the Chairman will take necessary steps to fulfil this important task with the blessing of Minister of Ports and Aviation, Chamal Rajapaksa.


Darwin and Dalai Lama

The view expressed by the scholar Prof. Paul Ekman that Charles Darwin formed his ideas on compassion from Buddhism (DN Feb. 20) is rather bizarre and far-fetched. It is possible that Darwin being a naturalist gathered data on the Tibetan flora and fauna through his friend Joseph Hooker who was conducting nature studies in Tibet.

But it is improbable that he would have learnt the philosophical thoughts of Tibetan Buddhism from the latter.

The apparent similarity in Darwin’s writings on compassion and morality to the views expressed by Dalai Lama must be attributed to the fact that the great minds think alike.

For that matter, Buddhist thoughts on universal compassion are found in pre-Buddhist Tamil literature.

It is therefore safe to assume that sublime philosophy is not the exclusive possession of a particular religion and that great thinkers of the world are known to have expressed lofty thoughts by dint of inspiration without any external influence.


Chilaw plantations makes profits

I refer to the article published on February 16, under the above caption.

When considering the contents therein, it is most surprising to note the differences in the profits recorded by the respective plantations during the past 16 years and at present.

If the given information is to be accepted, the total income recorded by the CPL for the past 16 years would be achieved within two years of the present management which is extremely commendable.

If I remember correct, a similar situation was recorded by the KPL after it was returned to the Government.

The above situations obviously goes to prove that the fault has not been with plantations.

Plantations continue to remain the major revenue earners to the country, hence the Government should ensure that these valuable assets are properly administered to achieve the maximum revenue to the country for the development of same. This should apply to both Government and private plantations as well.


Can this be the pride of Sri Lanka?

As citizens of this country we all have responsibilities to fulfill towards the benefit of one another.

Likewise all media organisations too are bound to fulfill their responsibilities towards the well-being of society. One such duty is the proper adherence to the ruling enacted by this Government to prevent from promoting use of tobacco and alcohol products through media.

There is scientifically proven worldwide evidence that advertising, promotion and sponsorship of these products either directly or indirectly would lure youth and children to take the habit.

Therefore prohibition of advertising of these products is one of the strategies a Government should take to reduce the consumption. There are other strategies that should be appropriately applied, such as raising tax, increasing awareness of the consequences of using these products, prohibiting sales to minors, prohibiting use at public places, etc.

With the enactment of the new law, inclusion of scenes using these products in new tele-dramas and films was prohibited and in regard to the already produced tele-dramas and films, the National Authority on Tobacco/Alcohol (NATA) made a ruling to mask such scenes.

But we understand that this ruling is not properly adhered to by certain electronic media institutions. They do so purposely. This ruling was violated by an electronic media institution which introduces themselves as ‘Lankeya Abimanaya’ meaning the pride of Sri Lnaka, on December 31, 2008 when showing a film in which two well-known actresses and an actor were smoking and using alcohol.

The mask was put up after showing all these unappealing scenes. Under the Tobacco Control Act No. 27 of 2006 the punishment for direct advertising is a fine up to Rs. 2 million and for indirect promotion there is a fine up to Rs. 50,000 and imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years of both such fine and imprisonment. Is this another strategy to creep through rules and regulations and become slaves to the so-called industries?

We draw the attention of the Chairman, National Authority on Tobacco/Alcohol (NATA), to take action promptly against this violation. We have the video clip of this particular scene.

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