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Health Ministry launches Food-Based Dietary Guidelines with FAO support

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Ministry of Health Additional Secretary (Public Health Services) Dr. Lakshmi Somatunga launching a website. Deputy Director General (Public Health Services) Dr. H. S. R. Perera, Nutrition Division Actg. Director Dr. Lakmini Magodaratne, Dr. Yasoma Weerasekere, and Dr. Anoma Basnayake look on

The Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched the Sri Lanka Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs) at an event held in Colombo.

FAO in a press release said: Country specific FBDGs are one of the FAO/WHO recommended tools to improve healthy eating habits and lifestyles of individuals and populations. Sri Lanka was one of the countries to endorse the FBDGs in the Framework for Action agreed at the Second International Conference on Nutrition.

The Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (also known as dietary guidelines) are intended to establish a basis for public food and nutrition, health and agricultural policies and nutrition education programs to foster healthy eating habits and lifestyles. The guidelines provide advice on foods, food groups and dietary patterns to provide the required nutrients to the general public to promote overall health and prevent chronic diseases.

Sri Lanka first published food-based dietary guidelines in 2002. A revised version was launched in 2011.

“A quick reference guide with the most relevant facts for better nutrition is a public need,” said Ministry of Health Deputy Director General Public Health Services Dr. Susie Perera. “A lot of hard work in the form of extensive research and stakeholder consultations went into the development of this guideline. A wide circulation to empower people with these facts is needed. Therefore, the next steps of implementation and dissemination of the dietary guidelines are equally important.”

The guidelines were developed by the Nutrition Division of the Ministry of Health, in consultation with various government ministries, universities, nutrition associations and institutes, consumer and non-governmental organizations. Technical and financial support was extended by FAO. The guidelines are adapted to the country’s nutrition situation, food availability, culinary cultures and eating habits.

“FAO assists member countries to develop, revise and implement food-based dietary guidelines and food guides in line with current scientific evidence,” said FAO Representative for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Dr. Xuebing Sun. “Sri Lanka is a country that is facing a triple-burden of malnutrition from staggering rates of stunting and wasting among children, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity especially among women of reproductive age. The causes of malnutrition are complex and multilayered, yet diet is one of the single most important contributors to malnutrition. These food-based dietary guidelines can favorably impact diets and the food systems in Sri Lanka, from production to consumption,” Dr. Sun noted.

The revised Sri Lanka Food – Based Dietary Guidelines will be published and made available to the public on the website of the Nutrition Division of the Ministry of Health.

 

Food-Based Dietary Guidelines Key Messages are

• Add variety to your daily meals balancing the correct amounts.

• Eat whole grains including rice and their products which are parboiled or less polished instead of refined grains and products.

• Limit sugary drinks, biscuits, cakes, sweets, and sweeteners.

• Add fish or egg or lean meat with pulses in each meal.

• Eat at least two vegetables, one green leafy vegetable, and two fruits daily.

• Eat a handful of nuts or oily seeds daily.

• Have fresh milk or its fermented products.

• Limit salty foods and adding salt to foods.

• Water is the healthiest drink: drink 8 to 10 glasses (1.5 – 2.0l) throughout the day.

• Be active: engage in exercises at least for 20 minutes every day.

• Sleep 7 – 8 hours continuously every day.

• Eat clean and safe food.

• Eat fresh and home-cooked food: limit processed and ultra-processed food.

• Always read labels of packaged foods.

 

 

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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