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Impetus to Rotary and Ministry of Health partnership to eliminate cervical cancer



Launch of WHO global strategy

Seventeenth November 2020 marks a historic milestone, with the World Health Organization (WHO) officially launching its global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem , targeting the period 2020-2030. This is the first time the world has committed to eliminate a cancer. As WHO has observed “Cervical Cancer is a preventable and curable disease as long as it is detected early and managed effectively”.

The Rotary Club of Colombo, in the second phase of its 15 year Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Project, launched its Cervical Cancer Elimination Project in 2019 in partnership with the Ministry of Health . Today, to commemorate the November 2020 WHO formal launch landmark, monuments in the capital, namely Colombo Town Hall and other prominent landmarks will be illuminated in the colour teal to depict cervical cancer awareness. This would be a display of solidarity by Sri Lanka with a historic global commitment to eliminate cervical cancer, and will be showcased globally as part of the WHO event , accompanied by the illumination of iconic monuments in various regions of the world. Today’s launch of the WHO strategy , gives impetus to the far reaching Rotary initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Health to fight cervical cancer, with the challenging goal of eliminating cervical cancer as a public health problem by 2030,

While local and global events , primarily the Covid-19 pandemic, delayed the launch of this life saving project , it is now targeted for early 2021 with the installation and commissioning of advanced technology HPV DNA screening equipment for early detection of cervical cancer , located regionally to reach out to areas with low coverage. This would be simultaneously accompanied by relevant capacity building of healthcare personnel focussing on behavioural change, and publicity campaign to build social awareness. Two buses for mobile screening would also be made available to facilitate greater reach to target high risk groups in the interior areas. This major project is funded with a global grant from The Rotary Foundation together with a number of Rotary Clubs across the world , and project partner Rotary Club of Birmingham ,Al, USA.

The strategy adopted by WHO in 2020 is reflected in the approach taken by the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka in partnership with Rotary, of targeting elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem through 3 main pillars-Prevention through HPV vaccination , which will be taken on by the Ministry of Health, and which offers long term protection against cervical cancer. Rotary’s involvement would be in the facilitation of screening and early detection of cervical cancer in the 35 and 45 year old females, thus enabling early detection and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions which would prevent a pre cancer developing into a cancer. The third pillar would be the treatment for those diagnosed with invasive cancer , which could save those lives, while palliative care would address the pain and suffering and aim at mitigating this. Rotary’s ongoing partnership of over 15 years with National Cancer Control Programme of the Ministry of Health , focussing on screening and early detection and prevention of breast cancer and cervical cancer , motivated Rotary, with this long experience, to come forward, and focus on cervical cancer – being preventable , and curable if detected early and treated.

The WHO strategy targets 90% of girls to be fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine before the age of 15 years, with a target of 70% of women being screened using a high performance test at 35 years and again at 45 years , and 90% of women identified with cervical cancer to receive treatment(both pre cancer and invasive cancer). In this respect Sri Lanka is on the right path with the HPV vaccination of 10 year old girls already close to the target. The well structured healthcare system in Sri Lanka effectively facilitates reaching the target group for screening and early detection of cervical cancer , which, with the support from Rotary, would address the present low coverage, and target an increase upto 70-80% coverage. With results being measurable and monitoring and evaluation systems being upgraded , including population based cancer registries , such a focussed strategy spearheaded by the Govt of Sri Lanka in partnership with Rotary, would make elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem an achievable goal.

WHO states in its communique launching its strategy , ” Cervical cancer stands as one of the world’s greatest failures, but through strong action and aligned intervention, elimination is within reach for all countries. The technology and tools exist to prevent this disease , along with proven measures for early diagnosis and treatment”.

Rotary, in partnership with the Ministry of Health is focussed on this challenging and lifesaving goal which will be a historic milestone in disease prevention. In the words of WHO Director General, “We can eliminate cervical cancer and make it a disease of the past”.



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Ransomware menace plagues Sri Lankan businesses: Kaspersky



A total of 2,650 ransomware incidents were detected and blocked by Kaspersky cybersecurity solutions for businesses in Sri Lanka from January to December 2023.

Experts from the global cybersecurity company insist on organisations, regardless of shape and size, to beef up their IT security posture as ransomware, especially the targeted type, continues to be a damaging menace for organisations in the region.

“The era of widespread mass attacks by encryptors on both individuals and businesses is gradually fading away. Instead, we are witnessing a shift towards organised groups that execute hacks involving data theft and encryption, commonly referred to as double extortion. The rationale behind this evolution lies in the perpetrators’ ability to operate with greater efficiency, thereby enabling them to demand significantly higher ransom sums,” says Fedor Sinitsyn, Lead Malware Analyst at Kaspersky.

Last year, ransomware incidents in Sri Lanka include the compromise of 5,000 government-related emails as well as attacks on telecom servers.

“It’s evident that the threat actors behind ransomware attacks target all sectors in Sri Lanka. The total number of attempts may be low, but organisations need to realise the real impact of each successful ransomware infection, both on the financial and reputation fronts. It’s imperative for businesses here to look into cybersecurity technologies that provide absolute anti-ransomware effectiveness in third-party exams. Because not all cybersecurity solutions are created equal,” Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business, Kaspersky Small Office Security and Kaspersky Standard demonstrated complete protection against ransomware in 10 different real-life attack scenarios during regular Advanced Threat Protection assessments held by AV-TEST.

To combat ransomware and assist those affected, Kaspersky, alongside Europol, the Dutch National Police, and others has the No More Ransom initiative, launched in 2016. On the official website, participants provide decryption tools, guidelines, and instructions to report cybercrimes, irrespective of the location of the incident.

By the end of 2023, Kaspersky marked the seventh anniversary as a key contributor to the No More Ransom initiative. This period witnessed expanded access to Kaspersky’s free decryption tools, in line with its commitment to combating ransomware. These tools, targeting 39 ransomware families, have been integral in assisting nearly 2 million victims globally, as reported by Europol, underscoring the profound impact of the No More Ransom initiative supported by Kaspersky.

To protect yourself and your business from ransomware attacks, consider following the rules proposed by Kaspersky experts:

Do not expose remote desktop/management services (such as RDP, MSSQL, etc.) to public networks unless absolutely necessary and always use strong passwords, two-factor authentication and firewall rules for them.

Promptly install available patches for commercial VPN solutions providing access for remote employees and acting as gateways in your network.

Always keep software updated on all the devices you use to prevent ransomware from exploiting vulnerabilities.

Focus your defense strategy on detecting lateral movements and data exfiltration to the Internet. Pay special attention to the outgoing traffic to detect cybercriminals’ connections.

Back up data regularly with special attention to offline backup strategies. Make sure you can quickly access it in an emergency when needed.

Avoid downloading and installing pirated software or software from unknown sources.

Assess and audit your supply chain and managed services’ access to your environment.

Prepare an action plan for reputational risk of your data exposure in the unfortunate event of data theft.

Use solutions like Kaspersky Endpoint Detection and Response Expert and Kaspersky Managed Detection and Response service which help to identify and stop the attack on early stages, before attackers reach their final goals.

To protect the corporate environment, educate your employees. Dedicated training courses can help, such as the ones provided in the Kaspersky Automated Security Awareness Platform.

Use the latest Threat Intelligence information to stay aware of actual TTPs used by threat actors. The Kaspersky Threat Intelligence Portal is a single point of access for Kaspersky’s TI, providing cyberattack data and insights gathered by our team for over 26 years.

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IDB and MOI organize National Vehicle Parade with all domestically value-added vehicles



A vehicle parade of locally manufactured and assembled vehicles organized by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) along with the Ministry of Industries (MOI), Sri Lanka Automobile Component Manufacturers Association (SLACMA) and Automobile Assemblers Association will be held for the third time, through Galle Face, Lotus Roundabout , Fort, Technical Junction, Punchikawatta, Maradana, Borella, Borella cemetery junction and to BMICH on June 18, 2024 from 4pm onwards. The IDB under the Ministry of Industries is a key stakeholder in the Standard Operating Procedure which facilitates automobile assembly and component manufacturing in the country. The roadshow will see a fleet of over 200 locally assembled vehicles parade the streets.

Chairman of Industrial Development Board Dr. Saranga Alahapperuma stated, “The IDB which is the statutory body responsible for the development of all industries in Sri Lanka, has a mission to provide the strategic, technological and commercial foundation needed to encourage, promote and develop all industries in the country. Hyundai, Proton, Chery, BAIC, DFSK, Wuling, Mahindra, TATA, JMC, Lanka Ashok Leyland, TVS and Bajaj are few of the brands that are assembled in Sri Lanka with the approval and certification of the Industrial Development Board.”

The services of the IDB are of great benefit to the automobile and auto component manufacturing and automobile assembly industry in the country.

It is the authority responsible for overseeing the auto component development, design, testing and certification for industries, automotive component costing and process/product optimization services, raw material testing and selection for automotive components, plant, machinery, equipment, tool appraisal and valuation and incubator facilities for automotive component developers. It is also the national tooling center for automotive component development and provides services such as foundry and metallurgy services for automotive component developers, technical inspection services, rubber compound development for automotive components and electro-plating services for automotive components through a network of district offices covering the entire island.

The IDB also provides industrialists with industry information services, incubator facilities, and even an electricity subsidy.

“The facilities provided by the IDB will help create a very favorable environment for the automobile manufacturing and assembly industry and the automotive component manufacturing industry to match world standards. The Sri Lanka Automobile Component Manufacturers Association (SLACMA) and Automobile Assemblers Association both are committed to help organize the Vehicle Parade annually, to whom which I thank for their efforts.” Alahapperuma said.

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Q+ Payment App goes trilingual to further facilitate payments for the masses



Highlights of the launch events in Nittambuwa and Jaffna,

‘Q+ Payment App’ – the first LankaQR certified mobile payment app in Sri Lanka – has gone trilingual with the launch of its groundbreaking Sinhala and Tamil versions at twin events held in Nittambuwa and Jaffna respectively.

Powered by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon, the Q+ Payment App is now available in the preferred language of the user, making the App and its payment options available to a much wider customer base covering the entire island.

The launch of the Sinhala version of Q+ Payment App took place at the Nihal Fashions complex in Nittambuwa, and was supported with a Cashback offer for QR payments for purchases from the merchant, the Bank said. The event was attended by the Head of the ComBank Card Centre Mr Nishantha De Silva, the Bank’s Regional Manager – Colombo Metro Mr Hemantha Sooriyabandara, branch managers from the area, and the management and staff of Nihal’s Group.

The Tamil version of Q+ Payment App was launched at TCT Multi Trade Centre in Jaffna, also with the participation of the Bank’s Head of Card Centre Mr Nishantha De Silva, Regional Manager – Northern Mr A. Jeyabalan, several branch managers and senior Bank staff from the region and the management and staff of TCT Multi Trade Centre.

Positioned as the next dimension of payment options, the Q+ Payment App enables cardholders to pay through multiple payment options via their mobile phones including ‘Scan & Pay’ by scanning the merchant’s QR code. Since the launch, the app has undergone numerous functionality-enhancing upgrades. Besides all the multiple payment options it offers, Q+ Payment App has also been enabled for different methods of fund transfers and scheduled payment options supported by year-round attractive Cashback offers, promotions and lifestyle events.

Q+ Payment App is the only QR payment app in Sri Lanka that supports six types of QR codes – LankaQR, VisaQR, MastercardQR, UnionPayQR, Indian UPIQR & Alipay QR. It was adjudged the Best Mobile App for Retail Payments in Sri Lanka for the last two years by LankaPay.

Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, Commercial Bank is the largest private sector bank in Sri Lanka and the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World.

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