Editorial - Healthy move by ITI to save Sri Lanka

14 August 2013 07:16 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The safety and quality of what millions of Sri Lankan people eat and drink daily has seldom been properly and professionally tested. For instance we have about 200 varieties of bottled water in the market being sold at prices ranging from Rs 80 to Rs. 100 a litre with some of them carrying a tag saying “Approved by the Ministry of Health”. But the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya said on Wednesday the Health Ministry did not have state-of-the-art equipment and enough highly-qualified professionals to test the safety and quality of bottled drinking water. That means some of the brands of bottled drinking water being sold for Rs. 100 may have been filled up from roadside taps. Such is the danger to which millions of innocent and unsuspecting Sri Lankan people are being exposed largely because politicians are not doing their job to look after the people but most of them are busy enriching themselves and their families with bigger and bigger bank accounts here or abroad.

Thankfully now the Science and Technology Ministry’s Industrial Technological Institute (ITI) has pledged that it will test and retest the safety and quality of every item of food and drink sold in Sri Lanka. ITI Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Sirimal Premakumara said on Wednesday the ITI had recently bought high-tech equipment and it had a highly qualified staff of graduates with master’s degrees and doctorates. He said ITI would from now on test the safety and quality of all items of food and drinks in the market and make the people aware of any dangers in these products, especially the loads of imported items many of which are known to contain toxic substances as preservatives and are unfit for human consumption. The ITI CEO’s comment came in the aftermath of the Milkgate crisis where highly scientific tests by the Institute revealed that some varieties of powdered milk imported from New Zealand contained the toxic chemical DCD.

"But tragically and horrifyingly up to 15 percent of Sri Lankan children were today known to be suffering from diabetes..."

Dr. Premakumara said the main question was not whether the level of DCD in these varieties of milk power were harmful or not. He said his view was that there was no need to use DCD for the production of powdered milk. GMOA President Dr. Padeniya, who is a paediatrician and child neurologist said when he began his work as a doctor he seldom or never treated a child suffering from diabetes. But tragically and horrifyingly up to 15 percent of Sri Lankan children were today known to be suffering from diabetes largely because of what they eat and drink daily. Even more dangerous was his disclosure that as many as 11 percent of children suffering from diabetes had become intolerant or immune to the insulin cure. The grave meaning is that these innocent children will slowly and silently die long before they reach old age. The
Government, the Health authorities and the parents are equally responsible for dragging our children to graveyards. Perhaps they did it unknowingly up to now. But with the truth about the trans-national and other companies being revealed now, the state authorities and parents have little or no excuse. We must stop giving our children and ourselves a little poison with food and drink three times a day. We must stop now before we plunge into a human catastrophe.

One of Sri Lanka’s leading nutritionists Dr. Damayanthi Perera also said on Wednesday she agreed with the GMOA that the import of powdered milk should be stopped and the Government must give incentives and encourage farmers to revive our fresh milk industry. Another expert revealed that though Sri Lanka had about 1.2 million milch cows, milk was being obtained only from about 200,000 cows, while the others were being slaughtered or allowed to go astray. We hope the government at least now will act in the highest interests of the people and put the food safety and quality programme into full gear, starting with milk.
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