Daily Mirror

  • Treatment for pesticide poisoning, in Sri Lanka not effective: Clinical study

    The standard treatment for patients who have attempted suicide by drinking pesticide -- a major problem in parts of rural South Asia including Sri Lanka -- is essentially useless, according to a study. Activated charcoal, taken orally, has long been prescribed as an antidote for self-inflicted poisoning, as it is thought to absorb toxins in the stomach and prevent them from entering the bloodstream. But a large clinical study of 4,500 patients, published in today's issue of The Lancet, has found that the carbon powder has no discernible effect. A team of researchers led by Michael Eddleston of the Scottish Poisons Information Bureau in Edinburgh compared three different treatments for suicide attempts in rural Sri Lanka in 2002 and 2003. A third of the subjects were given a single, 50-gramme dose of charcoal, and one third were given six 50-gramme doses at four-hour intervals. For the last third, activated charcoal was omitted entirely from the treatment administered, according to the study. Mortality rates for all three groups showed no statistically significant difference, varying by less than one percent. On average, 6.8 percent of the patients died as a result of the poisoning. The percentage needing intubation for breathing, or suffering from seizures, was likewise similar across the three sets of patients, with a slightly lower incidence among those who received multiple doses of charcoal. Just over half -- 51 percent -- of the subjects ingested industrial insecticides and 36 percent swallowed toxic seeds from yellow oleander, a common roadside plant throughout most of south Asia. In 2006, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that nearly 900,000 suicides occurred each year -- more than from homicides and wars combined -- of which 250,000 occurred from poisoning by agricultural chemicals. In China, Malaysia and Sri Lanka between 60 and 90 percent of all suicides were due to ingestion of pesticides and the incidence was rising in many other countries in Asia, it said. Compared to industrialised countries, the mortality rate for attempted suicides is 10-to-50 times higher in the rural developing world. The effectiveness of charcoal has long been debated, and Eddleston's findings will probably not go unchallenged. A previous study, also conducted in Sri Lanka and published in The Lancet in 2003, determined that multiple doses of activated charcoal halved mortality rates compared to a control group. But this apparent breakthrough may have been false, as the earlier trial used large doses of atropine, noted Peter and Florian Eyer, researchers at the University of Munich, in a commentary, also in The Lancet. Atropine is a drug derived from the plant deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) that relieves spasms of the gastrointestinal tract, thus reducing secretions of stomach acid.

  • Poor sanitation in schools cause spread of Hepatitis

    The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said yesterday the poor conditions of Colombo schools have contributed to the current outbreak of Hepatitis in the city. Dr. Kariyawasam said most of the small schools in the city lack basic sanitation facilities and the toilets were in very poor condition and lacked water supply. Some schools were found without proper drinking water facilities according to him. Schools have been subjected to inspection as it was found that the majority of the infected persons during the past two months were of school attending age. Accordingly there had been 39 cases of Hepatitis and all of them were reported to be school children. Dr. Kariyawasam explained the outbreak was reaching its peak level but was confident that it would be under control in a few weeks time. The CMC has carried out intensive house to house inspections and education programmes to prevent further spread of the disease. Thousands of leaflets have been distributed among the residents in Modera, Mahawatte, Mattakkuliya and Bloemendhal areas. Water samples were taken from the main lines and checked for germs and all were found to be negative. Dr. Kariyawasam explained the CMC has planned to carry out disinfection programmes in schools from today. All water supply points would undergo chlorination. "However, there has to be a long term plan to build proper toilet facilities and provide adequate water supply to these schools which are attended by children of marginalised families/communities in the city,' he said .

  • CMC to oppose handing over of sewerage system to NWSDB

    The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWSDB) is ready for a possible dispute with the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) and the Western Provincial Council as both institutions are opposed to the taking over of Colombo's sewerage system by the former. In a surprise move yesterday the CMC decided to oppose the handing over of the sewerage system to NWSDB which comes under the Ministry of Water Management. This was a sudden and surprising decision as the Council had passed a motion to hand over the sewerage system to the Water Board during the sessions on February 12. However a fresh proposal to revise the earlier decision was unanimously passed at the sessions yesterday. The motion which was presented yesterday was signed by several councillors including JVP Member, Hemantha Kumara, DUA Councillor, Roy Bogahawatte and F. M. Sharafdeen. Mr. Bogahawatte who moved the motion said the NWSDB Chairman had taken this decision on his own as the subject Minister has not made such a request. Meanwhile the main opposition UNP was to move a motion to oppose the NWSDB move to takeover the sewerage system at the Western Provincial Council sessions today. The motion was to be moved by the UNP Provincial Councillor, C. Y. P. Ram. Mr. Ram told Daily Mirror the takeover of the sewerage system by the NWSDB would pave the way to impose a sewerage levy from the city dwellers. He said this would be charged as a percentage of the total amount shown in the water bill. The party was to request the Western Province Chief Minister, Reginold Cooray to take steps to prevent this act taking into consideration the difficulties faced by the people due to the sky rocketing cost of living. Mr. Ram said some UPFA councillors have pledged their support and were expected to vote for it. He said he would discuss with the JVP too and was confident that the party would also support him. According to Mr. Ram the Attorney General had also stated the taking over of the sewerage system was illegal as there was no move to seek approval of Parliament which was compulsory for such a take over.

  • Biggest fisheries Harbour for Dikowita

    The biggest Fisheries Harbour in the country will be built in Dikowita. Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Felix Perera and his officials visited the proposed project site with Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabral on Wednesday. Minister Perera told the Daily News that the proposed harbour will help to promote tuna fish exports. Perera said this project was planned several years back but it is finally being implemented under the direction of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Central Bank Governor has taken a keen interest in the project, he said. The area of the harbour is 13 hectares. It will have facilities for 20 trawlers and all other requirements for multi-day fishing trawlers including anchoring facilities 1,150 meters in the sea. The minister said the proposed Dikowita Fishery Harbour will be the biggest in the region and construction will be completed in two years. He appealed for the cooperation of all fishermen to achieve that target. Governor Cabraal said if Sri Lanka's ocean region is utilised economically and correctly Sri Lanka would achieve its development target very shortly. The Dikowita Fisheries Harbour Project is funded by the Netherlands Government which has provided Rs 80,000 million.

  • Rat fever fast spreading in WP

    The health authorities say that the rat fever (Lepto Spirosis) is fast spreading in the Western Province.

  • CEA plans to eradicate garbage crisis by 2012

    The Central Environment Authority (CEA) is to take the initiative to solve the garbage problem completely by the year 2012 by providing necessary assistance to local authorities countrywide.

  • Minister wants roads cleared of garbage by 6 a.m.

    Environment Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka urged local government authorities who are responsible for collecting solid waste to clean garbage on road sides by 6 a.m. starting from April 1.

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