17th February 2002, Volume 8, Issue 31

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No more cages

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By Risidra Mendis

The cages will open all over Sri Lanka to free the birds. Parrots, mynas, sparrows and other species of Sri Lankan birds that have for many years suffered being cooped up cages will soon have a new lease of life.

For many people dogs and cats are the common household pets. However recently, with the increase in the number of pet shops in the country, people have resorted to having parrots, mynas, doves and other types of birds in their homes. Irrespective of the welfare of the birds they are kept in tiny cages to save on space and cost.

Even though the question has risen as to the extinction of a species of parrot, people still tend to keep the bird for ornamental and entertainment purposes.

However a recent decision taken by the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) has prohibited all Sri Lankan birds from been caged in the country.

This idea was first suggested by a past director of wildlife. However, the suggestion was not implemented strictly to nab the culprits at the time. But with the recent decision to put the suggestions into action, wildlife authorities have devised a procedure whereby any person can inform the department of a bird seen caged in any part of the country.

According to Kamal Edirisinghe from the Young Zoologists Association apart from seven species of Sri Lankan birds the rest cannot be kept in cages as pets. However people interested in keeping these seven species will have to obtain special permission from the DWC.

While there is a downward trend in the import of birds into the country, endemic birds seized from homes and organisations are to be sent to the National Zoological Gardens. According to a statement made by Environment Minister Rukman Senanayake one of the government's plan for the 100 day program, is to prohibit endangered birds from being brought into the country unless special permission is obtained from the DWC. "If extinct birds are brought down from foreign countries, there is a chance of crops being destroyed due to their breeding patterns," Edirisinghe said.

According to Sagarica Rajakarunanayake of Sathva Mithra the reviewing of the existing law under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance to protect the birds should be commended. However she also said that a proper plan should be put into action before any decisions in releasing birds from cages are taken.

"I feel people like Rex De Silva and Dr. Nandana Atapattu should be consulted when preparing this plan of action. The Minister has hit upon a very important point and should take a full view of it. However I also feel there should be awareness programs to educate the public on this matter first.

"There's also the Buddhist practice of people releasing birds as a vow. This practice has encouraged us to capture birds and take them away from their natural habitats to be sold to people in the city," Rajakarunanayake said.

According to Rajakarunanayake, no good will come to birds, which are captured and then released  at any place convenient to people who are fulfilling their vows. These birds will definitely survive longer in their cages than in the open environment, as they will be attacked by other predators. "The Minister should look into the possibility of banning the release of birds at official ceremonies as well. It is also important to note that the bird's habitat should be found before it is released from its cage. Even though saving the birds is a very good suggestion I don't think sending the domesticated birds to the Dehiwela Zoo is a wise solution," she said.

According to wildlife authorities if a complaint is made to the department it will be investigated, and the birds confiscated. They also said they have enlightened the public on this issue and advised them to release pet birds.

"We don't just release the captured birds. Having obtained a court order we will then decide on a suitable place to release them. Department officials are also working on increasing the penalty of Rs. 20,000 to a higher figure, once amendment to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance is completed. If we're lucky hopefully within the next seven to eight months this act will be amended," H. M. B. C. Herath, acting director, DWC said.


Heart of the matter

By Ranee Mohamed

All of us like large hearts, but Dr. Krishna Prasad prefers  small hearts.

"They are easy to operate on," he said with a smile. In his long medical career, this doctor has worked with many hearts - some good and, some really bad hearts. And his concern is that hearts are continuing to be ignored, overburdened and taken less seriously by many overworked and overstressed people all over the world. 

After many years of working in Europe, Dr. Prasad is here to set right a syndrome that is affecting people worldwide - cardiac or heart problems. Most of us are worried about fats, cholesterol and heart disease and the very arrival of this heart surgeon in Sri Lanka shows that Sri Lankans are in greater need of heart surgery.

Dr. Prasad said that he is concerned about 'pear-shaped' people and stressed that one ought to be cautious about diet and ensure that one gets enough exercise and avoids stress.

Moderate in his views and rather shy , Dr. Prasad often looked at his able hands before he spoke. They are the hands of a surgeon, precise, strong and steady.

 Dr. Prasad however does not say that anything was 'bad.' But when it came to smoking he did say that he would not advocate even moderate usage.

The visit of this heart surgeon to Sri Lanka will make it possible for hundreds of patients with heart problems to seek remedial surgery in Sri Lanka without having to go overseas.

Speaking on the Sri Lankan diet, the doctor said that we are doing fine with our rice and curry.

"Carbohydrates are fine, though coconut oil is not preferable. It is better to have vegetable oil like sunflower oil and olive oil. As long as things are in moderation, one can have lean meat and even chicken with the visible fat cut off. More salads  and vegetables and one is less prone to heart problems and cholesterol," he pointed out.

"Cholesterol is from food mainly of animal origin," he continued, "and milk also has a certain amount of cholesterol, but skimmed milk is safe."

Dr. Prasad said that Asians in general have a higher incidence of heart disease because of their diet and sedentary life-styles. "Once we get married, we tend to take life easy. We don't tend to keep fit and engage in less physical activity. We also undergo much stress. But in the west most people exercise," said Dr. Prasad.

Speaking of pizza and hamburgers he said that it was bad for the heart to eat them regularly but said that "having it once in a way as a treat to our palates is fine."

Chinese food he said is good because of the involvement of soya and soya sauce. But once must ensure that it is not coated in oil. "One should use a small amount of oil as we cannot do without oil. But one should avoid saturated fats at all costs - that is mainly animal fats. Butter and ghee is not good at all," said Dr. Prasad.

He said that there is a relationship between weight and the heart and that when one is obese the risk of hypertension and heart disease is greater.

"There are three basic building blocks in the body, one is protein, the others are carbohydrate and fat. Fat can be like cholesterol and related substances like triglycerides. Cholesterol is mainly produced in the liver and is absorbed in the intestines and reach the circulation. They stick in the body," he pointed out.

He said that fat is deposited in our bodies and this deposition depends on the diet and our genetic make up. It will decide how much narrowing of arteries takes place. Exercise has a beneficial effect said that doctor as the fatty acids are reduced. The doctor said that though there are cholesterol fighting drugs, they can be taken only after cholesterol is formed.

When asked about garlic the doctor said that garlic has been found to be beneficial, when taken regularly.

The doctor said that women are less prone to heart disease because of their high oestrogen count and are protected till peri-menopausal period. "I am not saying that women do not get heart attacks, but that the incidence is lower in women," he pointed out.

"I will be able to treat more people in a safe way as I will be doing beating heart surgery. This process reduces a number of risk factors," he said.

Dr. Prasad said that he had done surgery on the heart by stopping the heart. The heart  is stopped by  using cardio plegia. This relaxes the heart and stops it so that one has a bloodless, still heart to operate on. "But now the trend is to do beating heart surgery and that is what I will be doing," said the doctor.

Dr. Prasad said that the heart beating inside is a sign of life. The heart it muscular with brown and yellow and muscles. There are also blue and whitish sections. Dr. Prasad folds his fist and lays it horizontally  across his chest and says, "This is how your heart looks like."

"I will be doing bypass, aortic valve surgery, mitral valve surgery and paediatric cases. I will also be doing atrial septal and ventricular septal defects (commonly called hole in the heart) surgery," he said.

The doctor stressed that smoking is very bad for the health but pointed out that a glass of red wine can do wonders for the health. "Whisky and  brandy are not found to be beneficial, but studies have proven that red wine is good for the health," he said.

Dr. Prasad who is a vegetarian said that he was taken out to dinner and had been fascinated by the Sri Lankan hopper "I hope that there is no cholesterol is that," he laughed.

Dr. Prasad will assist Dr. A. Jayakrishnan, Dr. Waikal and his team at the Nawaloka hospital, Colombo.

The  types of surgery they will concentrate on are coronary, artery, bypass, graft surgery, aortic valve replacement, mitral valve replacement, ventricular septal defects, fallots tetrology, atrial septal defects, patent ductus arteriosus, angioplasty with stents, mitral valveplasty and congenital paediatric surgery.


Making the condom user-friendly

The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka  has launched a condom social marketing project in an innovative and revolutionary manner. The overall objective is to make the condom more 'people friendly' by removing existing barriers as regards the purchase of condoms.

During this campaign, one of the primary focuses would be to project the condom as the best protection against the deadly scourge of AIDS. The campaign is to take on a multipronged approach and will be phased out in two stages. During the first phrase, a generic campaign on condoms would be initiated stressing that the condom is the best protection against contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted  infections.

Despite condoms being easily available to the public, there have been some reservations as regards public attitudes. This campaign serves to 'de-mystify' the condom and make it a part of every sexually-active adult's life; in effect to change social attitudes and behaviour towards the condom.

There is social stigma attached to the use of condoms - for example women are hesitant to go to a shop to purchase a condom, discussion on its use even between two sexually active people is not easily initiated. However, the unfounded myths surrounding its actual use are often baseless.

One of the prime thrusts of the campaign will be to familiarise the condom among groups considered 'high risk." These would be commercial sex workers, beach boys, members of the armed forces, homosexuals and migrant workers.

The Family Planning Association has retained the services of a mobile publicity services company to carry out 105 events in 105 towns covering 19 districts. There are to be 35 night shows and 70 day events held as a part of this campaign. Banners are to be displayed prominently in the towns where these events are to be held.


Homespun remedies and proffesional help

Combating sinusitis Every year, more than 31 million Americans spend more than $1.5 billion on medicine to alleviate the discomfort of sinus infection, or sinusitis. Usually, sinusitis develops when a cold, allergies, or other respiratory irritation causes nasal membranes to become so swollen that they can no longer keep mucus flowing freely. Pressure increases, mucus builds up, and blocked sinus cavities become a breeding ground for bacteria. Once an infection sets in, antibiotics usually are the only way to completely rid sinuses of infection. Sometimes, however, chronic or severe sinusitis requires surgery to drain sinus cavities, or to repair bone or tissue abnormalities that keep infections coming back.

Symptoms/Signs:

Prolonged pressure or pain in the forehead or cheeks, between and behind the eyes, or near the upper teeth Yellow or green nasal mucus that may develop a bad odor or taste Puffy eyelids    Coughing or difficulty breathing Fever Consult your doctor if:

You develop thick, yellow, or greenish nasal discharge or if cold symptoms do not improve after more than one week.

You have pain over the eyebrow, or below the eye, or in the upper teeth, usually on one side of your face. You have a severe headache that is not relieved by aspirin or acetaminophen.

Swelling of the face increases.

Fever is over 101 degrees F.

Your nose bleeds.

Vision changes or becomes blurred.

There is no improvement after three days of home treatment.

 

Home care ideas:

Use over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays for no more than three days.

Try an oral decongestant containing pseudoephedrine to help clear nasal passages.

Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain.

Avoid antihistamines unless you have allergies that contribute to sinus inflammation.

Nasal saline sprays may help.

Apply warm compresses over eyes and cheeks periodically to relieve pain.

Take a hot shower twice a day, or breathe deeply over a pan of steaming water.

Avoid air travel, swimming, diving, and high-altitude sports if symptoms present.

Eating garlic, horseradish, and spicy foods may help drain sinuses.

Drink plenty of liquids, especially hot ones.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine drinks.

Avoid airborne irritants and allergens such as dust mites.

Blow nose gently to avoid forcing mucus into sinuses or inner ears.

Lubricate nose with saline sprays or petroleum jelly.

Consider using a portable air filter in your bedroom Use of oral corticosteroids as adjunctive treatment The most common approach for corticosteroid adjunctive treatment is for patients to take prednisone for seven to ten days. Antibiotics are begun along with the prednisone and continued for 3-4 weeks.

Intranasal topical steroids

Use of topical steroids has been widely advocated for treatment of chronic sinusitis as one component of a comprehensive medical treatment program. In one study, Kaliner et al demonstrated a significant clinical benefit from a medical treatment program that included four weeks of oral antibiotics, nasal saline irrigations, intranasal corticosteroids and decongestant nasal spray.

Treatment of Nasal Polyp Disease (Chronic Hyperplastic Sinusitis)

Several studies have shown that topical intranasal steroids help to reduce the size of nasal polyps and prevent their regrowth after sinus surgery.

A short "burst" of an oral steroid, such as prednisone, often helps to reduce the size of nasal polyps and may help to prevent the need for sinus surgery. Nasal polyps typically regrow within a few months after the steroid burst. To maintain improvement after treatment with an oral steroid burst, patients should always be advised to use a topical intranasal steroid on a continuing basis.

Optimum delivery of intranasal corticosteroids and complications of therapy

For most patients with chronic sinusitis, intranasal corticosteroids should be used on a continuous basis. Side effects are generally minimal, although some patients experience nose bleeding from local irritation of the spray. This type of irritation can be caused by improperly spraying the medicine on the nasal septum. If you are having problems with the use of an intranasal steroid, please ask your doctor to help you insert it in the nostril properly.

Is there a special case for nasal polyp disease associated with aspirin sensitivity?

In patients with aspirin sensitivity, the sinus membranes become heavily laden with eosinophils. One of the major substances produced by eosinophils is leukotriene C4, a "mediator" that produces bronchial spasm, nasal swelling and excessive secretion of mucus. Eosinophils are one of only a few cell types that produces leukotriene C4. Topical steroids are strongly recommended for any patient with nasal polyp disease, including those with aspirin sensitivity. A new category of drugs, the leukotriene receptor blockers, has recently become available. It is too early to know whether these drugs will help to control nasal polyp disease.

Treatment of allergic fungal sinusitis

Allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS) is a rare complication of chronic sinusitis caused by an intense allergic and eosinophilic inflammatory response to a fungal species, usually one of the class fungi imperfecti. Surgical removal of the thick secretions loaded with fungus, which may become impacted, is the mainstay of effective treatment Nearly all patients with AFS have nasal polyps, and many patients have elevated levels of blood eosinophils.

Oral steroid treatment

Oral steroids are useful in the management of AFS, although they should not be viewed as a substitute for surgery. It is occasionally necessary to continue a low daily or every other day dose of prednisone to maintain control of allergic fungal sinusitis. It is difficult to deliver the liquid intranasal steroid preparation to the sinus tissues. The delivery can be improved by instructing the patient to use the inhaler in the head-down-forward position.

The patient can be positioned in one of two ways: lying face-forward on a bed with the head hung over the side or kneeling in bed with the top of the head on the mattress. The patient should be instructed to spray the medicine into the nose and then immediately go into the head-down-forward position. With practice, the patient may be able to remain in this position for a minute or longer. When used in this way, intranasal corticosteroids have been reported to reduce the size of nasal polyps and improve sense of smell (Mott AE, et al. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 123: 367-372, 1997.)

Antifungal drugs

There are no studies yet to determine whether antifungal drugs help to control allergic fungal sinusitis Computer difficulty - Armageddon?

Autolycus

A local self-proclaimed prophet began foretelling of  Warrington State College's doom last week while standing on a nearby street corner. "Woe unto you, Warrington State," shouted the thickly-bearded man vaguely, kind of in the general direction of the school, "for the Lord hath looked upon you with disfavor!"

When asked by The Gazette for what sins the Lord would expend his wrath upon this institution of academia, the prophet, who said his name is John Fegelein, said the reasons were "pyramid." When asked if he meant the reasons were "myriad," he replied, "Um, yes."

The prophet Fegelein went on to expound on the Lord's anger.

"Woe unto you, the students, for they drinketh of distilled spirits and do not share with the poor, nor do they share with the prophets. Woe, for they revel in the slaughter of others, in both `Normal' and `License to Kill' modes. Woe, for they spend the Sabbath idly, reclining on their luxuriously threadbare Army-surplus-like cots. Woe for the existence of that which is an abomination in the sight of God: the Rat steak. Woe, for the day of the Lord is coming."

According to this disheveled street preacher, the "day of the Lord" will consist of many horrendous events.

"First, there will rain down from heaven a plague of scabies like never before seen on campus. Scabies, scabies, everywhere," Fegelein prophesied. "Second, all students and faculty will be forced to park in freshman parking, that desolate wasteland, but will be given tickets anyway, because, hey, those guys have quotas to meet. All Rat food, including condiments and beverages, will contain a significantly greater amount of those huge orange slabs of congealed grease. And scabies. Did I mention scabies?"

In addition, Fegelein then explained his own interpretation of how this great doom would come about.

"It will all begin with a great computer systems failure, not unlike Y2K. The network will completely crash from every student attempting to enter their schedules for next semester into the STEP program. At first, it will go relatively unnoticed, as students will assume the network has just crashed as it does every day that ends in -y. But, slowly, they will realize it will never come back, and, cut off from Instant Messenger, they will lose all contact with the outside world and lose their sanity! THAT is when the unmanagebale DOOM will start!" he said.

As of press time, The Gazette staff was unable to check on whether or not Fegelein's claims were true, as they were all entering their schedules into the STEP program.

Lest the Gazette be accused of purveying false information, this reporter asked for some sign to prove Fegelein's status as an actual prophet. Fegelein then revealed several burn-like sores around his mouth, tongue, and hands, claiming they were part of a cleansing ritual much like the one seen in the book of Isaiah. Convinced, this reporter questioned how Warrington State might escape its ultimate downfall.

"A good start," Fegelein said, "would be giving me five dollars and a ride to the Brown Jug."

No word yet on whether or not the day of the Lord has come.


Mother and child reunion

By Shalindra Seneviratne

Two years ago a middle-aged  woman ran into the Rambukkana police station in hysterics, crying that her granddaughter had been abducted by two unknown motorcyclists a few minutes before. She wept saying she had bathed the little girl and while she was washing clothes, the two-and-a-half-year-old child was abducted. In the police report she stated that her girl's mother had gone to the town on some errand.

While she was making her statement the rambukkana police station informed the other police stations in the area to find a clue to track the baby snatchers, but they failed.

There was no place of worship the relatives of Asha Nilmini had not been to implore the higher beings to return their bundle of joy. But when that too did not bring back the girl, her mother Shiromika Damayanthi made another complaint to the Kegalle police.

On ASP Gamini Seneviratne's orders the Kegalle police crimes investigation division's IP D. N  Dassanayake started the investigation. They took another statement from the mother, who said that a few years ago she had gone to Oman for employment, where she met a young man from Bangladesh. After a brief courtship they entered into marital bliss. They were blessed with a girl-child whom they named Asha Nilmini Kumari. Once Damayanthi completed her tenure at her place of employment in Oman she went to the Sri Lankan embassy with the baby to arrange the papers for their return to Sri Lanka. Here she met a Sri Lankan couple, who had inquired about her infant and has asked her if she was willing to give the baby up for adoption.

Damayanthi had flatly refused the offer but she had continued being friends with them. Once she returned, she kept in touch with the friendly couple who offered to adopt her baby. They even came to visit Damayanthi and her child and asked for her baby for adoption again, but this time too she refused to part with her

Few months after the incident two young men on a trailer bike had attempted to abduct little Asha while she was playing in the garden. However their plans were foiled when the neighbours had rushed in and the would-be abductors fled. That was certainly not the last time they were going to do this. They tried again a couple of months later. By this time Damayanthi suspected the Sri Lankan couple she met in Oman. Yet she didn't really know much about them, she only knew that they lived in Beliatta, and that was it.

The police after an intensive search got to know that a couple had taken up residence in Gampaha Asgiriya, who fitted the description and that the wife had gone abroad and a week prior to that the husband had gone to Nathandiya to settle. On a tip-off the police found the said suspect along with the child in Kuliyapitiya, Nathandiya. He was arrested immediately. His spouse had gone to Jordan one month before. They had sold their land in order to rent out places to hide from the authorities, the arrested man told the police.

He also revealed that he and his wife abducted the child, his wife disguised as a man. They had to resort to kidnap as they had both wanted a child badly.

When little Asha was brought to the Kegalle CID the little girl rushed into her mothers arms, in a joyful reunio The Mayor and his modern slaughterhouse in Colombn. Iunderstand that the Mayor of Colombo and his colleagues are about to sign an agreement with the Dutch Government to build a large, modern slaughterhouse in Colombo costing about 240 million rupees and that this can cater for the slaughter of 400 - 500 animals (cattle, goats and pigs) per day.

There does not seem to have been any discussion about this project with the people concerned, and it appears to have been a unilateral decision. As this decision affects the majority of the people in Sri Lanka (70 percent Buddhists and eight per cent Hindus) there should be transparency and regard for public opinion in this matter. It is nothing but fair that the Mayor should have ascertained the views the Buddhists, Hindus and all other people concerned before signing an agreement with the Dutch Government.

The number of Sri Lankans who eat beef has come down drastically during the last few years as more and more people have realised the dangers to health from eating red meat. I understand that about 150 cattle are butchered per day in Colombo at present, but in future I anticipate that this number will come down. Then for whose benefit is the Mayor going to build such a large slaughterhouse? Are we going to make Sri Lanka the major Buddhist country exporting meat to the rest of the region?

Is the Mayor of Colombo going to get the required number of animals for slaughter to make this business a viable one from the rural areas of Sri Lanka, or is he making arrangements to import cattle, goats and pigs to Sri Lanka from other countries for slaughter here and for export of the meat to other countries such as the Middle East?

Is the Mayor aware of the intense cruelty inflicted on the cattle and other animals which are transported over long distances and in overcrowded lorries? It is not uncommon to find that some of these animals transported for long distances in this manner, have died in the course of transport in these overloaded lorries. Some of the cattle suffer fractured legs during transport. These innocent, dumb animals are not given any food to eat or water to drink for days during the process of transport.

Prophet Mohamed had said "Verily there are heavenly rewards for any act of kindness to the live animals" It is said that "the animals to be killed should be treated with great kindness." It is also said, "animals awaiting slaughter should be given water when they appear thirsty and they should be brought gently to the place of slaughter."

Nothing like that happens in Sri Lanka and kindness before slaughter on the part of our Sri Lankan abattoirs is nonexistent. The only objectives of the people running these slaughterhouses is to make money. The torture of animals during the transport to abattoirs should also be stopped.

I would also like to ask His Lordship the Mayor whether he is aware that a good number of the cattle and other animals transported to Colombo from rural areas are stolen animals. The short period of 24 hours given for the owners of these stolen animals to claim them is not at all sufficient.

The public may not be against the modernizing Colombo's abattoirs, but they are certainly against the export of the flesh of the animals slaughtered in the proposed large, modern abattoirs to other countries, as Sri Lanka is predominantly a Buddhist country. Public opinion should be consulted and respected before taking a decision to sign the proposed agreement with the Dutch government, as this project will have long - term effects.

We would earnestly urge the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Buddhist Affairs to intervene and stop the building of this massive slaughterhouse in Colombo.

Dr. D.P. Atukorale

 

 

 

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