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UNFPA estimates one in five Lankans will be over 60 by 2030



It is estimated that by 2030, one in five people in Sri Lanka will be above the age of 60, with women making up the majority as they on average outlive their male counterparts, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka said yesterday.

It said that in Sri Lanka, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services are often inaccessible to persons living with disabilities due to barriers such as physical, financial, social, and psychological in nature.

While major progress has been made in the health sector over the years, challenges still exist in delivering comprehensive, non-discriminatory and client-oriented SRH services as SRH remains controversial and contested in many countries. Age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, economic status, social class, and other social, cultural and economic barriers pose major challenges to implementation of SRH care. The current COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and discrimination of vulnerable groups, making their access to SRH and GBV-related services often challenging when they are needed most.

UNFPA in Sri Lanka once again partnered with the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) to organize a panel discussion at the SLMA International Medical Congress on the topic “Rights-based approach to delivering comprehensive SRH services for All in the new normal”. The session explored the accessibility of health care services for ALL in the context of quality enhancement with a specific focus on most left behind groups in our society.

In her opening remarks, UNFPA Representative in Sri Lanka, Ms. Ritsu Nacken said: “The on-going pandemic brought the issue of equity and equality to light more clearly than ever before. We must pay much more attention to social determinants of health, and equal access to quality SRH services has to be part of the universal health coverage.”

Professor Susan Sawyer stated that “Adolescents have the least access to health care of any age group – and that was before COVID-19! Given that adolescents’ unmet needs for mental health and sexual health care are greater than any other time in life, this is simply not acceptable”.

Looking at the aspect of maternal Health, Professor Hemantha Senanayake stated that “Sri Lanka has achieved much in the area of maternal and child health by focusing on the delivery of safety. However, indifference, ignorance and prejudices on the part of care providers are impeding the client’s experience of care. The time has come to take a more client-centric approach to service delivery.”

International expert and activist for the persons living with disabilities community, Ms. Tanzila Khan said “Family planning is a life time return for people and it is very important to involve everyone in this mission. Let’s join hands and bring more power to the work that all of us are doing to promote better health outcomes for all through involving right based approach.”

Dr Suchitra Dalvie stated that “Who do our bodies belong to? Our governments, our families, our country? If our bodies do indeed belong to our own selves, then we are the only ones who should decide what to do with them. Whether it is who we choose to love or have sex with or whether we choose to continue a pregnancy or not. That is what bodily autonomy means!”

The panel discussion followed the spirit of the Nairobi Summit, which marked the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in November last year. At the Nairobi Summit, the governments reaffirmed their commitment to the ICPD Programme of Action to ensure that all people have access to quality, comprehensive SRH care and that reproductive rights for all are upheld. The panel highlighted that rights and choices for all are a fundamental part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Sri Lanka Medical Association is the national professional medical association in Sri Lanka, which brings together medical practitioners of all grades and all branches of medicine. It is the oldest professional medical association in Asia and Australasia, with a proud history that dates back to 1887.

UNFPA is the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, that has been supporting the Government of Sri Lanka for close to 50 years in ensuring every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.



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SL gets Rs 452 mn for saving ill-fated tanker: Rs. 3.4 bn asked for



By Ifham Nizam and Rathindra Kuruwita

The Marine Enviro-nment Protection Authority (MEPA) yesterday received Rs. 452 million from London for having saved MT New Diamond, a super oil tanker that caught fire in the Sri Lanka’s territorial waters last year.

MEPA General Manager, Dr. P. B. Terney Pradeep Kumara told The Island that Rs. 442 million had come for the services rendered by the Sri Lanka Navy, MEPA and Rs. 10 million by way of a fine imposed on the Ship’s Captain.

However, Sri Lanka has to receive a much larger amount for the damage caused to the marine environment, Dr. Kumara said. Following the incident, Sri Lankan authorities filed charges against the Captain of the ill-fated vessel and made a claim for $2.4 million from the ship’s owners for the firefighting and pollution prevention efforts.

Twenty experts from the Universities of Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura submitted their recommendations as regards the damage to the environment, to the Attorney General. Based on the report, the Attorney General’s Department had asked for Rs. 3.4 billion (around USD 19 million) as compensation for environmental damage, the Coordinating Officer for the Attorney General, state counsel Nishara Jayaratne said.

Soon they would have discussions with the lawyers of the shipping agent concerned on compensation for environmental damage caused, she said.

Dr. Kumara, who is the former Head of the Department of Oceanography/Marine Geology of the Ruhuna University, said that the incident had caused deaths among marine species due to spillage of some toxic fuel from the vessel.

The MT New Diamond crude oil tanker was transporting 270,000 MT oil from the port of Meena Al Ahmadi in Kuwait to the Port of Paradip in India when a fire broke out in its engine room as the vessel was passing the eastern seas of Sri Lanka on September 3, 2020.

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PSC on gender equality meets for the first time



State Minister, Fernandopulle flanked by two other PSC members

Special attention on microfinance

The Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to further gender equality, to investigate instances of discrimination against women and to present recommendations to Parliament, focused on microfinance loans that are currently affecting a large number of women in Sri Lanka, when they met for the first time in Parliament recently.

The meeting was chaired by the State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID-19 Disease Control Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle.

It was also revealed that the Cabinet had approved the re-establishment of an institution to regulate Microfinance loans in Sri Lanka.

The MPs also discussed the role of the Select Committee. They decided that the primary role of the Committee should be to investigate women’s grievances and all forms of discrimination based on gender, including workplace violence.

Another task before this committee is to examine and review laws that can be used to enhance gender equality, encourage relevant ministries and authorities to formulate plans to further gender equality and to allocate financial resources.

The Committee will also try to encourage greater women’s representation in decision-making bodies at the national and provincial levels as well as in government, civil society and the private sector.

MPs Rohini Kaviratne, (Dr.) Harini Amarasuriya, M. Udayakumar, S. Sritharan, Rohana Bandara and the Secretary to the Committee, Deputy Secretary General and Chief of Staff of the Parliament Kushani Rohanadheera were also present at the meeting.



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A/L Examination from October 04 to 30



The 2021 GCE Advanced Level examination would be held from October 4 to 30, Education Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris said yesterday addressing the media at his Ministry.

Minister Peiris said the examination was earlier scheduled to be held in August.

The Grade 5 scholarship examination would be held on October 03 and the 2021 GCE Ordinary Level (O/L) examination in the last week of January 2022, the Minister said.

“Usually, schools are open for academic activities for around 200 days a year. But in 2020, schools were open for about 150 days. It was around 130 days in the Western Province. We were not able to fill this gap with online classes due to lack of internet facilities in many parts of the country,” he said.

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