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Power Blackout Committee Report:Recommendations run counter to President’s policy

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By Dr. Janaka Ratnasiri

The Minister of Power, four days after assuming duties, had to face an island-wide power blackout which commenced around 12.30 pm on the 17th August and lasted up to 7-8 hours. The following day, he appointed a committee, comprising Ministry officials and power experts, to investigate the matter and submit a report within a week.

 

COMMITTEE APPOINTED
BY THE MINISTER

The Committee comprised two administrative officers, including an Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Power, serving as the Chairman, a Retired Professor of Mechanical Engineering, an Engineer who is a Chairman of a Corporation, two Senior Lecturers in Electrical Engineering, one senior official from the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and one senior official from the Ministry of Power responsible for Renewable Energy Development. The Director General of the Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) was also nominated but did not serve as there was a separate investigation being undertaken by the PUCSL. With two members from the Ministry, including one in the Chair, and another from CEB, the Committee cannot be considered as independent.

The Committee had met on the 18th and submitted an interim Report, to the Minister, on the 24th, which was also tabled at the Cabinet meeting held on the 26th. The Report was also made available at a press briefing held by the Ministry and the contents herein are taken from this Report. According to the Report, the Committee had visited the Kerawalapitiya Grid Substation (GSS) where the initial fault occurred claimed to be due to a human error, Lakvijaya Power Station (LVPS) at Norochcholai, Protection Branch of the CEB and the System Control Center of the CEB at Pelawatta, and had interviewed the staff on duty at these stations with a view to elicit information on the following.

The key reasons for the nationwide power interruption on the 17th August 2020 at 12:30 pm onwards.

Whether the CEB has taken precautionary actions and measures to prevent recurrence of interruptions that had been encountered in the recent past for which recommendations have been extended by similar committees that could have influenced the present incident.

Recommendations for remedial measures that need to be taken by the CEB to prevent recurrence of the same and similar incident.

Whether the CEB has taken the best professional practicing measures in handling the incident and the conditions that led to it employing proper planning, operational and administrative elements and had any constraint encountered CEB’s intended professional actions.

Whether the CEB had encountered similar incidents in the past and how the situation had been then handled.

Whether the CEB could have handled the situation judiciously to minimize the implication and how this could be avoided in the future.

 

PRELIMINARY FINDINGS OF THE
REPORT

The Committee, in its Interim Report ,has given a set of preliminary findings, among which are the following:

Routine maintenance work on the 220 kV isolators of the Bus Coupler Bay had been carried out on the day of the incident by the Electrical Superintendent-In-Charge at Kerawalapitiya GSS, who apparently has been attending routine maintenance work at the Kerawalapitiya GSS for the past five years. The power in the Bus Bar 01 had been turned OFF for the maintenance, while the power of the Bus Bar 02 was ON. The Earth Switch 01 at Bus Bar 01 side had been OFF while the Earth Switch 02 at Bus Bar 02 side had been ON as shown in Fig. 1.2(a) at the time of incident.

Under normal operations the Earth Switch and the relevant isolator are interlocked, so that the isolator cannot be turned ON while the Earth Switch is turned ON. However, during maintenance, this interlock had been bypassed, so that isolator can be turned ON even with the Earth Switch is turned ON. At the end of the maintenance work of the 220 kV Bus Coupler Bay, while the interlock is bypassed, the Isolator on the Bus Bar 02 side had been turned ON as shown in Fig. 1.2(b), creating a 3 Phase to Ground fault.

The key reason for the nationwide power interruption on the 17th August 2020 is due to the 3 Phase to Ground busbar fault due to incorrect operation of the Bus Bar 2 Isolator of the Bus Coupler Bay by the Electrical Superintendent -in-Charge at the Kerawalapitiya Grid Substation busbar at 12:30 Hrs.

Kerawalapitiya Grid substation tripping was due to not following the correct maintenance procedure by the relevant officials including the Electrical Superintendent. The Committee also observed that there was no written maintenance protocol for this maintenance job in-line with the current best practiced maintenance protocols.

The Committee is of the view that due to the Kerawalapitiya Grid substation tripping, the system frequency has increased beyond the current setting of the rate of frequency tripping relay of the Lak Vijaya Power Station (LVPS). As a result, the generator-transformer circuits breakers of all three units of the LVPS which made LVPS unavailable to the grid, subsequently the system failed in cascade.

CEB’s recent failure to avoid a country-wide blackout and the longer duration taken to restore power to Colombo City in particular, indicates significant lapses in implementation of critical measures outlined in the previous Expert Committee Reports.

 

AUTHOR’S COMMENTS ON THIS
PROCEDURE

The cardinal mistake done by the Electrical Superintendent (ES) during the maintenance work was that he had disabled the interlocking system which prevents switching on the 220 kV line to the GSS while it is earthed, which is a protective mechanism incorporated into the system to prevent blunders by maintenance staff as happened. It is certainly not an “Ath Wereddak” as claimed by a senior official of the CEB. As a result, the ES was able to connect the high voltage line to the substation already earthed which created the havoc.

The question which arises is what was the necessity to disable the interlocking system to carry out the routine maintenance? The Report does not seem to have queried the ES on this. If the ES has done such an irresponsible act, deliberately, in any other organization, he would have been interdicted forthwith or at least sent on compulsory leave. But, the CEB Management thought otherwise, possibly for fear of trade union reaction.

The tripping of the 220 kV line at Kerawalapitiya apparently has caused a sudden increase in the system frequency at LVPS, resulting in the three generating units there to trip. A sudden increase in the frequency means that the speed of the generator rotors has increased suddenly. Isn’t there a mechanical device called a governor in the generator which helps in maintaining the rotor speed at a constant value? Is it a characteristic of a coal power plant to allow its rotor speed to vary suddenly in response to a disruption in the line? Was it that this governor did not function properly when this incident took place?

The CEB management should be faulted for not making available to the maintenance personnel proper maintenance manuals. It was alleged that even for the Norochcholai coal plant, the manufacturer never made available to CEB the operation manuals in English. That may be the reason for having Chinese technicians to attend to O&M functions even today. It seems that during the last 6-7 years since commissioning the plant, CEB personnel have not been able to learn the O&M functions from the

Chinese technicians. Though, the CEB staff at Norochcholai are unable to handle the O&M functions of the coal power plant by themselves, Sri Lankan personnel are managing three combined cycle power plants, two at Kelanitissa and one at Kerawalapitiya. This is one more reason why Sri Lanka should not build any more coal power plants.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS OF
THE REPORT

Among the recommendations made by the Committee are the following among others:

The committee strongly recommends a standard compliant, systematic, foolproof, safe procedures and maintenance protocols to be instated in the CEB during operation and maintenance (O&M). The implementation of these procedures will have to be continuously monitored and supervised by adequately qualified, professionally trained, knowledgeable, experienced and skilled personnel. The committee would like to propose a performance evaluating annual appraisal system which will help to improve the above attributes of the CEB staff.

The committee understands that there is no Operations & Maintenance related risk management mechanism in place. Therefore, it is recommended to establish a risk management mechanism in order to determine the proper mix of preventive measures, mitigation levels, shift or retention of risks and consequent level of robustness of Operations & Maintenance protocols that would indicate the positive impact on the overall system

The committee strongly recommends to implement the 2018-2037 CEB Long Term Generation Expansion Plan, as given in the plan, which clearly specifies the correct blend of technologies for the future requirements of the Sri Lankan power system to improve the system stability and reliability.

The committee recommends to review the existing protection strategy for frequency instability.

 

2018-2037 LONG-TERM GENERATION
EXPANSION PLAN

 

The first two recommendations are in order. One would expect that an organization like the CEB has already following proper standard procedures for O&M. But if they are lacking, priority needs to be given for the training of staff adequately. It has been alleged in the media that all foreign training programmes are given to engineering staff while the middle level technical staff who actually carry out the O&M work are given only local training. Perhaps, there is a case here and if it is true, it should be rectified.

Since the Committee has made a strong recommendation that the CEB’s 2018-2037 Long-Term Generation Plan be implemented, it is necessary to examine what this plan is. The CEB prepares biennially a long-term generation expansion (LTGE) plan outlining the least cost options of generation plants that need to be added to the system annually for the next 20 years to meet the forecasted demand. The latest plan is in respect of the period 2020 – 2039 but it is still in the draft form yet to be approved by the PUCSL as required by Sri Lanka Electricity Act No. 31 of 2013.

The CEB 2018-2037 LTGE Plan released in June 2018 provided for adding 2,700 MW of coal power capacity between 2023 and 2035 and 1,500 MW of natural gas capacity between 2019 and 2036, along with several gas turbines and diesel power plants as well as a large number of small renewable energy plants comprising mini-hydro, solar, wind and biomass systems, under Base Case scenario. However, the PUCSL did not approve this plan but recommended an alternative plan incorporating natural gas power plants in place of coal power plants included in the CEB Plan.

The CEB refused to accept this recommendation, particularly with objections raised by its Engineers’ Union (EU), and the dispute between the PUCSL and the CEB kept dragging for over a year, and the matter was finally referred to the President who gave a directive to the PUCSL to approve the CEB Plan, fearing disruption to the power supply in the country after the CEB EU threatened to resort to industrial action if their demand for coal power plants is not acceded to. This is something not expected from a body of professionals and unheard in other countries.

Also, the LTGE Plan is highly flawed. It is supposed to determine which power technology will be the cheapest in 20 years hence based on current prices. With the cost of generation depending on plant capital cost and fuel prices both of which could vary widely within a span of 20 years, it is futile to make forecasts now as to which technology is the cheapest in 20 years hence and to adopt it. Although the CEB 2018-2037 Plan has recommended building 2,700 MW of coal power plants on grounds that coal power is the cheapest option, a report by World Bank Group study on Sri Lanka Energy Infrastructure Sector Assessment Programme (InfraSAP) released in February 2019, says in p. 18 that “coal ceases to be the least cost source of power generation, as cost of power from LNG and NCRE could potentially be lower than US cents 9 / kWh” which is the estimated coal power price.

It is therefore obvious that the 2018-2037 Plan is not a plan approved after considering engineering and economic aspects properly but approved on political grounds. Hence, the Committee’s strong recommendation to implement such a flawed plan is an attempt to take the power sector development in the country along a wrong path. It is not surprising that the Committee has made such a biased recommendation when two senior officials from the Ministry and one from the CEB are in the Committee. In any case, building more coal power plants is not a solution to a possible blackout in the future. This is the second attempt when the Ministry tried to get building of coal power plants inserted into a policy document on the sly. The first attempt was when the Cabinet took a decision on post-Covid activities to be undertaken urgently in view of the “emergency” situation in the country, building a 300 MW coal power plant at Norochcholai was inserted as one activity in the Cabinet decision.

It is also mentioned that the implementation of the CEB 2018-2037 Plan with more coal power plants is recommended to improve the system stability and reliability in the future. The Committee has not justified that the system stability and reliability would be better with coal power plants than with natural gas power plants for the Committee to make such a statement. However, it was shown in this instant that it was the instability of rotor speed of the coal power plants resulting in raising the frequency suddenly that caused the three coal power plants to trip. Hence having more coal power plants will not be of any help to maintain the stability of the system. On the contrary, it will make it worse.

Further, it is noted that with a coal power plant once shut down, it is necessary to wait several days until it cools down before it can be re-started. On the other hand, with a natural gas operated combined cycle power plant, there is no such delay and the plant can be energized within a few hours.

 

RECOMMENDATION VIOLATING THE
PRESIDENT’S POLICY

 

In the President’s policy document, “Vistas of prosperity and splendour”, he says “We also anticipate that hydro and renewable energy together would account for 80% of the overall energy mix by 2030”. The State Minister for Renewable Energy said during his assumption of duties that the Ministry’s target is to use renewable energy resources to generate at least 80% of the total generation of electricity by 2030. The Power Minister has also made a statement to that effect in the Parliament. However, it is not possible to achieve this target if the CEB 2028-2037 Plan is implemented.

The LTGE Plan has worked out the average generation from each plant type annually and the values obtained for 2030 are given in Table 1, extracted from the data given in Annexes 7.4 of 2018-2037 LTGE Plan. It is to be noted that it is not possible to forecast exact values for generation from each category in the future because it depends on many extraneous factors, such as rainfall, cloud cover, wind regime, fuel prices and demand which are not known accurately in advance. Annex 7.4 gives average values after considering several scenarios.

It is seen that according to the CEB’s LTGE Plan for 2018-37, generation from renewable sources could reach only 36% by 2030, which is far below the 80% target given in President’s VPS Policy Document, assuming what is intended by “total energy” appearing in this document is total electricity generation.

Therefore, the Committee’s strong recommendation that the CEB’s 2018-2037 Plan be implemented is a gross violation of the President’s Policy. It is surprising that a learned Committee including several officials in the Ministry, are not aware of the President’s policy. The Power Minster should call for explanations from the Committee Members why they overlooked the President’s Policy when they made their recommendation.



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Features

India and China opting to make positive impact in Ukraine

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Ukrainian troops ride atop an armoured vehicle on a road in the eastern Donetsk region

In what could be considered the most thought provoking development to date in the global politics growing out of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China and India have called on Russia and Ukraine to go for a negotiated solution to the crisis. Of particular importance is Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s pronouncement to the effect that the parties need to ‘keep the crisis from spilling over and affecting developing countries.’

Elaborating on this policy position, Wang Yi was quoted saying: ‘China supports all efforts conducive to a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis. The fundamental solution is to address the legitimate security concerns of all parties and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture.’

As pointed out by some commentators, this stance by China is indeed a far cry from the unconditional support extended to Russia by China in all matters of vital importance to the former. In other words, it is a comedown of sorts from the ‘all weather friendship’ that was seen as binding the countries.

As explicit as the Chinese Foreign Minister on this question was India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. He said: ‘As the Ukraine conflict continues to rage, we are often asked whose side we are on. Our answer, each time, is straight and honest – India is on the side of peace and will remain firmly there. We are on the side that calls for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out.’

Hard ground realities and economic pressures that are extending well beyond the Eastern European theatre could be considered as compelling China and India to adopt this policy stance on the Ukraine crisis. It is plain to see, for instance, that the Russian invasion is meeting stubborn Ukrainian military resistance which is rendering the invasion a highly costly exercise for Moscow.

Despite the initiation of some desperate measures by the Putin regime, such as the partial mobilization of Russia’s citizenry for the war effort and the holding of ‘referendums’ in territory seized from Ukraine in an effort to legitimize Russia’s hold on it, the invasion could be considered as having all but stalled. On the other hand, the Ukrainian resistance seems to be having ample resolve and morale. Bolstered by recently supplied sophisticated Western weaponry, it has more than taken the fight back to the Russian invaders.

Evidently, then, Russia’s war effort is not going according to plan. However, the human costs, in particular, for both main sides to the conflict are prohibitive. Ukraine civilians are being subjected to a bloodletting that civilized sections the world over are recoiling from in horror. They could be said to be at the receiving end of state-inspired barbarism.

On the other hand, the majority of Russian civilians ought to be seeing themselves as nothing less than cannon fodder in Russian strongman Putin’s efforts to resurrect the defunct Soviet empire, now that they are being forcibly conscripted into an apparently futile war effort.

All this and more, ‘on the ground’, is clearly evident to both the friends and foes of Russia. They are likely to be of the view that the senseless war ought to be brought to a close.

On the other hand, to a greater or lesser degree, all countries are currently experiencing the adverse economic effects of the war. As is known, the Ukraine invasion is a principal cause for the worldwide rise in food and energy prices. If stagflation is fast spreading in the world and the more vulnerable sections among citizenries are sinking further into poverty and disempowerment it is, to a considerable extent, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its ill effects.

China and India, two of the foremost economic powers of the South, ought to be fully alert to these realities. Among other things, they know for certain that there could be no economic growth for them and the world amid mounting material hardships and the steady impoverishment of people.

To re-state a fundamental axiom in classical economics, there could be no demand for goods and services if people lack the power to purchase, which comes from money in hand. And without the exercising of demand the production of goods and services comes to a grinding halt. That is, economies crumble. This is happening in the South right now.

The inference is inescapable from the foregoing that the invasion of Ukraine must end and that needs to be achieved by political means since a continuation of armed hostilities would only beget more war and its ill-consequences. Accordingly, China and India would prefer to have a negotiated solution to the Ukraine crisis.

A peek at recent growth trends in India and China would disclose the extent to which these economies have been dependent on the growing prosperity of their upper and middle classes to nourish their material fortunes. A report published in this newspaper on September 21, 2022 said, among other things, that by 2026, India’s dollar millionaires are expected to double. During the 2021- 2026 period China’s dollar millionaires are expected to grow by 97 per cent. It is these classes that have been keeping their economies ticking in recent decades by virtue of their growing purchasing power. Their purchasing power has steadily translated into a strong indigenous manufacturing base, among other things.

It does not follow from the foregoing that economic equity is a very strong point of India and China. That would necessitate a steady trickling down of wealth to the economically lower classes but we would certainly be having growth and that has been happening markedly in India and China.

Likewise, the prosperity of their neighbours as well as that of the rest of the world contributes positively towards the growth stories of India and China. While India and China have been interacting positively in the economic field over the decades on the basis of their increasing economic power and thereby gaining mutually, it will be to their advantage to ensure that their neighbours too advance towards economic wellbeing.

This accounts for the ready extension by India and China of economic assistance to Sri Lanka in its current woes. Indeed, India and China would extend their largesse to other countries in the region in their hour of need as well because the growth successes of these economic giants are predicated upon the prosperity of their neighbours, among other factors. In the absence of a degree of economic prosperity, these smaller neighbours could not expect to interact effectively in the economic sphere with India and China and gain significantly by it.

Accordingly, it will be in the national interest of India and China to call on Russia and Ukraine to go for a negotiated settlement. If the conflict is thus ended it will not only benefit India and China but the rest of the world as well, considering that the conflict is exerting widespread economic ill-effects.

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‘Use heart for every heart’

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World Heart Day 2022

By Dr.Mohan Jayatilake
Consultant Cardiologist
Former President of Sri Lanka Heart Association

The theme of World Heart Day 2022 is “USE HEART FOR EVERY HEART”. The World Heart Federation has created this day to raise awareness about Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD).

Every year, on September 29th, people all over the world celebrate Heart Day as a way to draw attention to cardiovascular illnesses, their management as well as the worldwide toll they take on society. World Heart Day was created in the year 2000 to inform people around the globe that Heart diseases and Stroke are the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 17.9 million lives every year. According to WHO statistics, 82% of deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries are due to lack of resources.

Together with members of the World Heart Federation, we need to spread the news that at least 80% of premature deaths, from heart disease and stroke, could be avoided if the main risk factors, heavy smoking, unhealthy diet, reduced physical activity, and alcoholism, are controlled.

Increased high blood pressure, increased blood sugar levels, being obese, or overweight, are all side effects of living a bad lifestyle that may harm your heart.

The world was battling the Covid-19 pandemic for the last two years. Unfortunately, patients, with CVD, are more vulnerable and have become high risk groups. Heart patients are susceptible to get a more severe form of Covid-19 infection which could make matters worse.

National activities such as public talks, cardiovascular screening, walks, runs, concerts or sporting events are organised worldwide by members and partners of World Heart Federation.

Global leaders have recognised the urgency to give priority to prevention and control of heart diseases with other non-communicable diseases (NCD) which include cancer, diabetics and chronic lung diseases.

This year also, according to the theme, we ask people to take charge of their home’s heart health by taking steps to reduce the burden of the following risks:

Stop smoking

Stop smoking to improve your own and your children’s heart health.

Cigarette smokers are 2-4 times more prone to get heart disease and strokes, than non-smokers. Stopping smoking dramatically reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes and deaths.

A Few steps for successful cessation

Find your reason – strong motivation will help.

Line up support in advance – medical assistance

Lean on your loved ones

Find new ways to relax/unwind – stress can make a person fall back to smoking. Music, meditation, yoga or any other activity will help to alleviate stress.

Try and try again

– you only need to try again and again to achieve your target, even though you are unsuccessful in your first attempt.

Avoid alcohol and other triggers.

Physical exercise always helps to alleviate stress and avoid triggers of smoking.

Healthy diet at home

Unhealthy diet is at the root of many health issues, especially obesity, diabetics and CVD. Rapid urbanisation, changing lifestyles and easy accessibility of fast foods have made our dietary patterns unhealthy. Following are some healthy food patterns:

Limit saturated and trans fats

Limit salt

Limit sugar

Plenty of fruits and vegetables

At least five portions of fruits and vegetables per day should be a norm of your dietary habits. You should opt for low fat milk and dairy products.

Animal products, mainly beef, pork, poultry with skin, mutton, lard, butter, cheese carry a lot of saturated fat. Trans fats are contained in baked, processed and fried food items, certain margarines and spreads. In order to cut down saturated and trans fats, consume lean meats, poultry without skin, low fat dairy products, fish and nuts. Vegetable oils should be in moderation.

Regular Exercises

It is recommended that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity or at least 75 minutes of high intensity physical activity per week.

Families should limit the amount of time spent in front of TV to less than two hours per day.

Exercise should be a regular part of your life. Due to the Covid pandemic, public exercise facilities are closed and most of the time movement of people is restricted. Therefore, home-based exercises were adopted to make exercises an enjoyable task.

Lose Weight

The world is now facing visible epidemic of obesity. It not only adversely affects your cardiovascular health, but also can affect your mental well-being.

The ways to lose weight effectively,

Do not skip meals – it will make you hungrier and go for more snacks.

Plenty of fruits and vegetables

Get active

– exercise burns off excess calories.

Use a smaller plate – eating smaller portions definitely reduces weight.

Do not ban foods

– you can enjoy an occasional treat otherwise you crave them more.

Cut down on alcohol

– it can make you gain weight.

Manage Stress

Psychological health and well-being can affect your cardiovascular health. Regular exercise, practising relaxation, being with your family and friends sometimes, adequate sleep, various hobbies, and maintaining positive attitudes towards life.

Know your numbers

Visit your doctor or healthcare professional.

Know your blood pressure which is one of the risk factors for CVD. Check regularly and take steps to control it including salt intake, exercises and medication.

Know your cholesterol – high cholesterol is another major risk factor for CVD. It should be checked regularly and controlled with dietary measures and medication.

Know your blood sugar – diabetics, conditions with high blood sugar levels multiply CVD risk. Diet control and medication required to control it.

Know your warning signs

Recognising symptoms of CVD can help you survive because earlier the treatment better the chances of survival.

Chest pain of tightening or burning in nature with pain radiating down the upper limbs or to the neck or back associated with sweating and nausea is the typical presentation of heart attacks. Sometimes heart burn or burning tummy pain could be due to a heart attack rather than gastritis or indigestion.

Sudden weakness of limbs, slurring of speech, mouth deviation or double vision could be due to a stroke. Knowing these symptoms and seeking medical assistance allow you to get treatment early and prevent complications which can be life threatening most of the time.

Take your medicine regularly and correctly

If you are already diagnosed with a heart disease or stroke, taking your medication, without fail, will reduce the chances of getting another attack of stroke or heart disease

Measures during pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic has created havoc, globally. People with CVD fall into very high risk category.

Therefore it is important to,

Continue your medication uninterruptedly

Follow medical advice

Continue exercise and balance diet.

Maintain your social network and

Do not hesitate to take vaccination.

By doing the household steps, mentioned above, you and your family can reduce the burden of heart diseases.

Breastfeeding and lifelong health

Breastfeeding is the best form of nutrition for newborn and infants, according to WHO. Increasing public awareness is important. Infants who are breastfed tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as lower rates of overweight and obesity all of which improve cardiac health.

Both undernourished and over nourished, early in life, can increase the risk for developing CVD. Evidence suggests that children who are undernourished while in the uterus and at childbirth bear a higher CVD risk later in life.

Maternal obesity during pregnancy has been associated with obesity in children which also increases the risk of developing CVD in life.

As always, our emphasis will be on improving heart health across all nations in adult male and female, as well as children.

By adopting lifestyle changes, people all over the world can have longer and better lives through the prevention and control of heart disease and strokes.

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Doctors…taking a break

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When we think of doctors, what comes to mind is medicine, patients, etc., and that’s only natural as doctors are our saviours…when we are ill.

We would hardly associate doctors with entertainment, and that’s where most of us are wrong.

I’ve been to a couple of concerts where these men of medicine have excelled, on stage, as entertainers, and some of them, I would say, are super-duper.

Yes, the Annual Sri Lanka Medical Association Doctors’ Concert is a much-looked-forward to musical extravaganza where the doctors, and their families, are provided the unique opportunity to showcase their talents, in performing arts.

It is usually held on the final day of the Annual Scientific Congress of the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), and it’s all happening this Saturday, October 1st, at the Lotus Room of the BMICH.

Says Dr. B.J.C.Perera, Senior Consultant Paediatrician:

“It is a common belief that medical doctors are a sombre set of people who are mainly involved in looking after people with illnesses. True enough, they do perform that ever so immensely important task in society, and such a mission is by no means to be taken lightly, in view of its tremendous significance. Healing the sick is certainly a noble task and many of them are renowned performers, as well as experts in their own chosen specialties of the profession.

“However, it may come as a surprise to many that several of these medical men, and women, have other talents – musical, acting, drama, etc. There are very many extremely gifted performers of real class amongst our medical men, and women. In recognition of this, the SLMA has provided an opportunity for these artistic men, and women, to showcase their talents, and flair, in the performing arts, at the glittering SLMA Doctors’ Concert.

“This is a much-anticipated opportunity for members of the medical profession, and their family members, to put their hair down and forget medicine, at least for an evening. The Doctors’ Concert was started many years ago as a rather informal event and it has a most proud tradition of being staged annually, for quite a few decades, in the history of the SLMA.

“A dedicated band, consisting mainly of doctors, first played at the concert, in 2014. This was in the Committee Room 1, currently the Lotus Room, of the BMICH. They performed on a small stage done for them on a side.

“The continuing progress of the event was due to the untiring efforts of that absolute virtuoso in music, a drummer himself, Dr. Christo Fernando. He left no stone unturned to make the event a resounding success, from 2014 onwards.”

This Saturday, October 1st, we will not see doctors, in their usual uniforms (Coats and Scrubs), stethoscopes, or anything connected with medicine, but entertainment, at its best…on stage!

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