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NATA all out to reduce alcohol consumption

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By Saman Indrajith

Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), Dr. Samadhi Rajapaksa yesterday said that they would increase the minimum age for sale, purchase and promotion of tobacco products from 21 to 24 in 2022.

Rajapaksa told the media that NATA had decided to amend the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act next year. The increase of the minimum age for sale, purchase and promotion of tobacco products was one of the proposed amendments to the Act, he said.

“Already advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco is prohibited. We want to stop the cross border advertising of tobacco products too,” he said.

Chairman Rajapaksa said they also wanted to remove all tobacco advertisements circulating on the internet including social media.

He said that the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act had been passed in 2006 and had laws related to restrictions on smoking in public places; packaging and labeling requirements; advertising, promotion and sponsorship; establishment of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol; and offenses and penalties.



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Waste galore at State Ministry of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals – COPA

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By Saman Indrajith

State Ministry of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals has failed to follow the action plan for pharmaceutical procurement approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, the First Report of the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) reveals.The report was presented to Parliament on Friday by Prof. Tissa Vitarana.The COPA has also observed that the Ministry has failed to maintain the required temperature in the stores owned by the Medical Supplies Division and stored medical supplies in the corridors there as well as in hospitals.The COPA report says the Ministry has purchased certain drugs from the local market at a huge additional cost. Those purchases were made without estimates.

The Ministry has also issued substandard medical supplies to patients, and it does not have a system to find out if a drug has failed a quality test, the COPA says in its report.

“The Ministry also does not have a system to check samples of all the medicines purchased and there is also a propensity for supplies to expire,” the COPA has said, adding that the Ministry tends to purchase branded drugs. It has recommended that purchasing of drugs under trade names be regulated.

“Sri Lanka does not have facilities to check the quality of certain drugs. Therefore, it recommends that a mechanism for checking the quality of each drug be developed, and that the laboratories in the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation and the National Medicines Regulatory Authority should be improved to meet the standards of the World Health Organization,” the COPA said.The COPA has also recommended that medicines should be ordered based on consumption rather than estimates, to minimise waste caused by expiry of drugs. “The Committee emphasised the serious health problems that can result from issuing medicines that have not been registered with the National Medicines Regulatory Authority, and recommended that this be rectified as soon as possible.”

 

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Persons with disabilities educated on their rights

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Text and pictures by PRIYAN DE SILVA

The Disability Organisations’ Joint Front (DOJF) has been conducting a series of workshops throughout the country to educate persons with disabilities on their electoral rights with special focus on physical accessibility to polling stations, ability to vote, access to electoral information as well as the targeting of electoral information/voter education to meet the needs of marginalised communities.According to the recent census report 1.8 million people in Sri Lanka are living with disabilities and of this 1.2 million persons are eligible to vote.

The DOJF and its sub-cluster members also plan to address the above issues by identifying the major electoral issues that affect persons with disabilities and other marginalised communities in relation to the electoral process.The key stakeholders in relation to electoral reform in Sri Lanka are the Election Commission, the parliament, and political parties.Commissioner General of Elections Saman Sri Rathnayake, and Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Reforms and Electoral Studies Manjula Gajanayake, were the resource persons at the workshops held in Colombo, Jaffna, Puttalam, Matara and Nuwara Eliya.

Declaration on the Rights of Disabled Persons adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1975, ratified by Sri Lanka, ensures that disabled persons have the inherent right to have respect for their human dignity.Disabled persons, whatever the origin, nature and seriousness of their handicaps and disabilities, have the same fundamental rights as their fellow-citizens of the same age, which implies first and foremost the right to enjoy a decent life, as normal and full as possible.Disabled persons have the same civil and political rights as other human beings; paragraph seven of the Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons applies to any possible limitation or suppression of those rights for mentally disabled persons.

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Fitch downgrades Sri Lanka further

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Fitch Ratings, on Thursday (19), downgraded Sri Lanka’s Long-Term Foreign-Currency (LTFC) Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘RD’ (restricted default) from ‘C’.On April 13, Fitch downgraded Sri Lanka to ‘C’ rating, following the announcement that Sri Lanka has suspended debt servicing of several categories of its external debt, including bonds issued in the international capital markets and foreign currency-denominated loan agreements or credit facilities with commercial banks or institutional lenders.In a statement Fitch said that it downgraded Sri Lanka’s LTFC IDR to ‘RD’ following the expiry of the 30-day grace period on coupon payments that were due on April 18, 2022, on two international sovereign bonds.

“We have downgraded Sri Lanka’s foreign-currency issue ratings to ‘D’ from ‘C’, given the default on the senior unsecured foreign-currency bonds and the cross-default clauses triggered in the other rated international foreign-currency sovereign bonds,” Fitch said.However, the rating agency kept Sri Lanka’s Long-Term Local-Currency IDR at ‘CCC’. Fitch said that the government has continued to service local-currency debt.Sri Lanka’s credit rating has been dropping steadily since late 2019. The ratings dropped from ‘B’ on September 27, 2019, to ‘CCC’ on June 14, 2021. The country’s credit rating was downgraded to ‘CC’ on December 17, 2021.

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