In the current efforts against the spread of the Covid-19 virus, the public has quite rightly been requested to stay at home as much as possible. In this regard, it would help if responsible citizens, who wish to collaborate with the health authorities, are not caused problems by other citizens and officials.
While I was sitting in my kitchen last afternoon reading a book, I was amazed to see clouds of white ‘smoke’ billowing over the boundary wall separating our premises from the adjoining garden, which is known as a source of mosquitos. The ‘smoke’ was part of a pesticide spraying effort to combat the mosquito nuisance. It entered our kitchen and other areas and made them uninhabitable for a time, for fear of the possible damage to our health. Those responsible should be considerate to others in view of the difficult times we live in.
This experience brought to mind the publicised decision of the government to do away with the import of fertilizers and pesticides. These are matters of dispute, but as regards the control of mosquitoes without experiencing the health problems and financial burden associated with the usage of insecticides, one can refer to what has been termed the ‘sterile male technique’. This is based on the concept of producing large numbers of sterile males of the species of mosquito one desires to control, and releasing them into the surroundings. The sterile males will mate with ‘fertile’ female mosquitos but offspring will not result. Have our public health authorities and research establishments looked into the questions of the availability and the applicability of this technology for introduction in Sri Lanka?
Research on this approach to pesticide-free mosquito control was in progress some years ago, but this writer is not aware if applicable technology has been developed and put into use. (A Scottish colleague resident in Pennsylvania wrote to him some time back of spraying being conducted from helicopters to control the spread of West Nile Virus, which is mostly transmitted by species of Culex mosquitoes.)
In this regard, mention may also be made of the important conference ‘2nd Global Health Industry Cooperation Conference (GHICC2021) and China-CEEC Summit for Healthcare Industry Cooperation’ held in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China on the 9th June 2021, in the course of which discussions took place on possible collaborations on projects between Chinese organizations and individuals, and organizations around the world. This conference, to which the writer was an invited participant, offered great hope for developing successful joint collaborations between organizations and scientists around the world. Collaboration on pesticide-free control of mosquito-borne disease would be an ideal area for such joint collaborations. The results of such joint collaborations would be applicable for the control of both disease-vector and ‘nuisance’ mosquitoes around the world.
Dr. ROHANA H WICKRAMASINGHE
A ‘painless shot’ from Army
When I was told that the Army was administering Sinopharm Covid vaccinations at Viharamaha Devi Park with special provisions for individuals with disabilities, I decided to take my wife, herself a Rehabilitation Medicine Physician, but now afflicted with Alzheimers disease, for her Covid shot, not knowing quite what to expect.
At the driveway into the park an Officer in smart uniform stopped me and inquired politely if there was anyone with a disability. When I answered in the affirmative, indicating my wife, I was asked to drive in and given instructions where to park my vehicle. In the parking area, another army officer kindly directed me to park under the shade of a “Nuga” tree for my wife’s comfort and asked me to proceed to the Registration desk and obtain my vaccination card.
Walking the short distance to the registration desk I observed those awaiting the vaccination seated comfortably in shaded and green surroundings. There was even a vending machine which was, I presume to provide refreshments for those waiting.
The several registration desks were manned by smart young male and female army personnel. The gentleman who attended to me took down my details and when my contact number was given information that the owner of this phone number had already had the vaccination appeared on the computer correctly, as I had been already vaccinated. Now, I expected a typical “public servant’ response that the “rule” is that a contact number could be registered only once. However, the officer used his brain, and after listening to my wife’s situation proceeded to complete the form. Then came the consent form that had to be signed. When I explained that my wife was unable to do so again I expected him to say, “Then get a letter from a doctor saying she cannot sign.” But this officer who did not behave like a robot used his judgement and allowed me to sign the form.
The paper work having been duly completed, I was asked to bring my wife to get her shot. When I explained that it would be very difficult, but not impossible, I was directed to the doctor at the site. I walked up to the young yet professional looking doctor attired in scrubs. When I explained my position, he promptly directed a staff member to go along with me to the vehicle and administer the injection while my wife was still seated there.
I then inquired if the young man who was helping my wife could also get his vaccination, and “no problem” was the answer. And before I could say “Sinopharm” the whole procedure was done and dusted!
What first class service!
To be at the receiving end of empathy and kindness was indeed a satisfying experience.
My thanks and appreciation to the organisers of the vaccination programme at Viharmahdevi Park on Wednesday (21 July)
Those who are critical of the army playing a lead role in Covid pandemic control, please take note.
On ‘misinformation’ against Minister of Health
Dr. Upul Wijayawardhana (UW) is a regular contributor to this newspaper. His articles are almost always interesting and sometimes they provide valuable perspectives.
I find his criticism/castigation of the Minister of Health (MOH) in an ‘epidemic of misinformation’ (Island 19.07.2021) unfair and baseless. UW singles the MOH out as ‘the leader of the pack, undoubtedly is the Minister of Health who conveys wrong health messages’. This is erroneous and unwarranted
The main issues that UW quotes in support of his argument is that ‘she recently went to a shrine to thank a goddess for protecting her’ and ‘that she dropped pots in rivers to prevent the spread of the pandemic’.
From the onset of this pandemic a multitude of rituals have been conducted and they are still in force; all night Pirith, Bodhi Pooja, continuous chanting of the Ratana Suthraya, etc. The MOH releasing pots to the rivers that would wash down the ‘pandemic’ to the sea was one such ritual. A salient point to be appreciated is that while there is the possibility that the MOH herself believed in the effects of releasing these pots; this ritual was done primarily for the country/public rather than herself- hence the coverage on TV and news.
In contrast to this, her fulfilling a vow that she and/or her family made on her behalf when she was at death’s door, is based on a personal belief, and unlike the previous public action was done as an extremely private affair. If not for the fact that she is the MOH and her actions got reported in the press, none of us would have been even aware of this act. One would be hard pressed to find anyone in this country who has not fulfilled a vow; be it for himself or herself / siblings/ parents /children with regard to examinations, illnesses, promotions, etc…
None of these actions has any bearing on how the MOH has advised the public based on the counsel that she has received from her health officials and as such she is certainly not guilty of conveying any ‘wrong health messages’.
The MOH contracted Covid -19 because she was at the forefront of this epidemic and was constantly in touch with frontline workers. Not because she abandoned good health practices in favour of a cultural ritual! She had to be admitted to the IDH, was in the intensive care unit and according to medical sources was quite sick. We now see her on TV, the effects of the Covid-19 are apparent, a person who has had a near brush with death, fully cognizant of the danger of her current position. Certainly this would not have been something she signed up for when she took on the job as the MOH! This being the case, for UW, a doctor of medicine, to refer to ‘There are other idiotic politicians around the world who paid with their lives for the folly of not accepting the reality of a viral pandemic’ is not worthy of a healer.
Having recovered from her illness the MOH at a press conference publicly thanked her medical team for the effort they put into saving her life. I am sure that she would have thanked them personally as well. UW concludes his diatribe against her saying ‘Her life was saved not by goddesses, but by the excellent doctors, nurses and other health professionals Sri Lanka is blessed with. A person who is unable to even grasp that reality surely does not deserve to be the Minister of Health’. Is UW seriously suggesting to this readership that the MOH is unaware of the difference between science and culture? Is it his contention that anyone who engages in a religious /cultural ritual has no grasp of reality?
As a side note I am amused by the use of the term ‘Sri Lanka is blessed with ’. Based on UW’s logic ‘who are highly trained in Sri Lanka’ ought to have been a more appropriate term as blessings have nothing to do with a scientific reality!
Dr. Sumedha S. Amarasekara
Night soil as fertiliser
I write with reference to a letter on night soil as a source of fertiliser by my good friend Upali Wickremasinghe which appeared in the Island of 17/07.
In the first place we were not talking of ammonium sulphate only but all chemical fertilisers vs compost as the sole supplier of nutrients for successful crop growth.
His suggestion to use night soil is an invitation to revisit the smelly past. It is true that some Asian countries and Sri Lanka too used this on a very limited scale many years ago mostly on home gardens.Our concern is on much larger holdings. Irrespective of the scale of operation the implementation poses many problems,
Outdoor latrines have to be built. Who collects and cleans the buckets used? In the olden days scavengers were employed. Today, we attach more respect and dignity to human labour. These kinds of latrines particularly around Negombo were designed for the pigs reared on the range. Repulsive no doubt. I remember a story I heard as a child. A state councilor who visited a friend in Negombo spent a night with him. The following morning when using the toilet he was amazed to find a pig catching his dropping in midair. He is supposed to have commented that although he had been a state councilor for many years it was the only day that his motion was carried! There was also a practice to tether buffalows to coconut palms overnight. Their dung and the urine nourished the palms.
I will not elaborate on the sanitary and enviorenmental issues which are bound to be overwhelming
Some theoretical concepts cannot be adopted in practice particularly on large scale. UW talks of some girls in Nigeria generating electricity from urine, One could also conceptualise to extract sugar from the urine of diabetics. How feasible is it?
UW in earnest implores to find ones roots. Whatever it means it cannot be scattering human waste all over.
Let us view the fertiliser issue crippling the farmer and the nation more seriously.
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