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Japan enhances support to SL through UNODC

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The Government of Japan provided US$1.64 million to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to secure essential health services and evidence-based drug use prevention, treatment and care programmes for drug use disorders for the population affected by the economic vulnerabilities and rapidly growing drug use in Sri Lanka.

This funded project comprises the UNODC’s programmes to address the urgent needs emerging from current context in Sri Lanka, for the duration of one year, with initial actions started in February 2023. In the country, due to the economic crisis the space of legal income-generating opportunities has shrunk drastically, which reportedly has pushed more people towards illegal activities as a means of living, especially the trafficking of illicit drugs. In this context, drug use such as pharmaceutical drugs, cannabis, heroin and methamphetamine has been sharply on the rise both in urban and rural areas including school-aged children and adolescents. Accordingly, the number of people with drug use accompanied by negative health and social consequences is estimated to be rapidly increasing, while affecting social stability.  

Under the project, is envisaged that those at risk of drug use and already affected by drug use and drug use disorders will be supported through drug use prevention, treatment and care interventions that are based on scientific evidence and ethical principles. These services are to be delivered with particular attention to those with special vulnerabilities, such as children, youths, women, and minorities, through UNODC’s expanded partnerships with relevant Ministries of the Government of Sri Lanka, UN and other international and regional agencies, as well as NGOs in a multi-sectorial manner.

National Dangerous Drug Control Board (NDDCB) confirms the commitment of the Government of Sri Lanka to continuing to monitor and assess the emerging trends and complex drug market. It is also determined to undertake the necessary steps to mitigate the risks of drug abuse including referral of persons with drug use and drug use disorders for voluntary admissions to medical treatment and rehabilitation. Sri Lanka currently values therapeutic approaches for drug-addicted persons over punitive measures and necessary actions have been taken to incorporate effective and efficient treatment and rehabilitation approaches at the residential and community levels in consultation with the relevant government stakeholders.

“Investing in drug prevention and treatment is an investment in the social, economic, and moral fabric of our society. It’s about recognizing that every person struggling with addiction deserves access to compassionate and effective care, and that by addressing the root causes of addiction, we can build healthier, more resilient communities for generations to come.” Emphasized FISD (Foundation for Innovative Social Development), one of NGO partners working on drug demand reduction as importance of such initiatives.

In response to this challenging situation, UNODC is to introduce programmes on drug use prevention, treatment, and care to be tailored to the context of the country, scaling them up through the cooperation with the government, UN and other partner agencies and NGOs. The key to achieving this includes developing and strengthening the coordination mechanism among the relevant authorities, as well as introducing systematic capacity development for those who disseminate drug use prevention tools or deliver treatment and care services for people affected by drug use disorders.

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President apologizes over compulsory cremations during Covid-19 pandemic

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President Ranil Wickremesinghe has apologized for making cremation compulsory during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“During this time there was a lot of pain, mainly felt not only by the Muslims, but also Hindus, Buddhists and Christians, I know who also prefer burial,” President Wickremesinghe said in Parliament.

He said that a committee appointed to look into the matter at the time had recommended cremation, a decision which was upheld by the Supreme Court as well. So, that had to be followed. There was no other alternative during that time, he said.

He assured that Sri Lanka will bring in a law that will allow the right of burial, right of cremation or gifting one’s body to medical institutions.

(Excerpts : dailymirror.lk)

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Postage stamp to be increased to Rs. 100 in July

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A proposal has been made to increase the price of an ordinary postage stamp to Rs. 100 by July, Mass Media Ministry Secretary Anusha Palpita said.

He told the Daily Mirror that the Postal Department is currently incurring an annual loss of Rs. 7,000 million.

“Last year, the loss was reduced to Rs. 3,200 million. However, with a salary increase for postal employees costing Rs. 2,800 million this year, the Postal Department’s loss will rise again to Rs. 7,000 million.” he said.

“If the losses continue to increase, it might reach Rs. 5 billion by 2025. Less than 1.5 million people use postage stamps, yet the entire country bears the burden of the Postal Department’s losses,” he added.

The price of a stamp was Rs. 15 until 2022, and the current price is Rs. 50.

“We are awaiting approval from the Treasury to raise the price of a postage stamp. This decision is necessary due to the ongoing losses of the Postal Department,” Palpita said.

(dailymirror.lk)

(This story, originally published by dailymirror.lk has not been edited by SLM staff)

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SL health officials urge public not to panic over flesh-eating bacteria

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Sri Lankan health authorities have urged the public not to panic about the spread of Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS), or commonly known as ‘flesh-eating bacteria’.

Surging numbers of STSS cases across Japan have raised alarm globally.

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