A healthy Lanka will be a wealthy Lanka
Daily Mirror Editorial
Nov 23, 2011

In a development-oriented Budget speech loaded with incentives for local production and exports, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said high priority would also be given to healthcare with an allocation of more than Rs.73 billion for the state health service. He pointed out that despite marvelous advances in medical science and the widespread use of modern technology, the number of people suffering from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and resultant heart ailments had risen to grave levels.

Among the reasons for this are the lack of a proper food and nutrition policy, the high cost of medicinal drugs and a comfortable or armchair lifestyle without daily physical exercise. The President said urgent and effective measures would be taken to produce more nutritious food locally so that people would have access to quality food at affordable prices while Sri Lanka could save millions of dollars in foreign exchange by stopping the import of non-essential food items, most of which are of dubious quality while some are known to be unfit for human consumption.

The President said tax and other incentives would be given to small or medium scale industries, which produced quality food and medicinal drugs locally. He said that while urgent measures were being considered to regulate the prices of imported medicinal drugs, the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation and the State Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Corporation would be given further incentives to import good quality drugs at affordable prices or produce essential drugs locally. The President said that in the coming years the government hoped that 75 per cent of Sri Lankans would be competent in computer technology and there was no reason why most of the essential items could not be produced locally. The poisoning or pollution of locally-produced food items like rice, vegetables and fruits through the excessive use of imported chemical fertilizers, weedicides or pesticides is another reason why most people get sick more often and hospitals are more crowded than market places. To overcome this problem the President said incentives would also be given for bio farming with the use of bio fertilisers.

Another vital step announced in the budget was that incentives would be given to revive the local production of fresh milk. Dairy farmers would be given cows and other facilities for the production and marketing of fresh milk. Besides the extra nutrition the production and consumption of fresh milk would help Sri Lanka to save millions of dollars in foreign exchange by reducing the import of powdered milk, some of whichis of questionable quality though it is being promoted as being essential for proper growth or development of the child's brain. Till the late 1970s fresh milk production was a thriving industry in Sri Lanka and most children had a glass of fresh milk, while breast feeding was promoted for the child until at least the age of two. But vested interests including some transnational companies use subtle and sophisticated methods to kill or undermine the fresh milk industry.

Thankfully this trend will now be reversed. Sri Lanka will become healthier and wealthier when children drink more breast milk or fresh milk and people get quality non polluted food at affordable prices.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka