Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Selling death online

Last week Sri Lankan health experts defeated something that should be defeated on behalf of all women, children, elderly and the sick in Sri Lanka. That is stopping the efforts made to sell liquor online. What health experts defeated was a type of ‘tsunami’ which was about to destroy the lives of these social categories imprisoned inside their houses. There is no escape for them because of travel restrictions.

There is no point of talking about the negative health effects of consuming alcohol because the people who consume alcohol do not care about such negative health effects at all. Nothing or no one can stop them from consuming liquor and it is like trying to wake up a man who is pretending that he is sleeping. They drink alcohol and die after spending millions of public money for medical treatment and drugs offered to them through state hospitals. During the previous regime, discussions were held in connection with charging fees from patients who obtain medical treatment for alcohol-related health issues from state hospitals. But as usual this topic was limited only to discussions and nothing was done. No step was taken at least to issue a bill to such patients in order to remind them about the unnecessary cost to the State.

Alcoholics abuse their wives, children, elderly family members and sick and feeble family members and sometimes neighbours. During travel restrictions, all such categories stayed at home because they cannot go out. Alcoholics got a golden chance to abuse them freely. Some individuals use alcohol only to find a reason to abuse family members. All those things were halted by the non-availability of alcohol. Then various efforts were made to provide alcohol online.

The Government has barred online alcohol sales. 

Unfortunately, some supermarkets sold alcohol from the back door. Business establishments are only focused on making money and nothing else matters to them. We cannot expect them to be concerned about social issues or people’s health. The other factor is that alcohol promotes social gatherings – it is rarely that individuals consume alcohol alone. Usually they get together and consume alcohol sitting close to each other and sharing glasses, etc. This set up provides the best environment for Covid-19 to spread all over the country. Alcohol cannot be consumed while wearing masks. Therefore no one wears masks while consuming alcohol as a group. But all those dangers were defeated by health experts in Sri Lanka.

According to the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), the Government should beware of certain officials in certain state Ministries who recommend things that harm the people and make the Government unpopular.

The GMOA officials said that such officials recommended to the Government to sell liquor online and also recommended to the Government to use agro-chemicals. The Government should be aware of such officials all the time. These officials did the same during all previous Governments and are doing it now as usual. Such officials failed to provide medicine, food, pensions, etc. online so far. Those officials are recommending to the Government what is profitable for them and not for the people.  

Staying off alcohol is a prudent and healthy choice. 

The Government should take legal action against all individuals who promote producing alcohol at home using social media. In foreign countries, the Governments take legal action against such individuals. The same should be implemented here in Sri Lanka in order to ensure the safety of the public, they said.

They also pointed out that in the past, groups of people died after consuming poisonous alcohol produced at homes. The poisonous chemicals produced during producing alcohol at home can make people permanently blind, disabled or kill them instantly.

Last week the media reported an incident related to a child who was forced to drink alcohol by a youth. According to the latest media reports, now the mother of the child and the culprit say a popular cool drink was inside the beer can given to the child to drink and these two individuals had earlier told the law enforcement officers that liquor was given to the child to drink. The main purpose was making a video clip and releasing it to social media.

According to some statistics revealed by the Health Ministry in March 2018, five percent of male schoolchildren and one percent of female schoolchildren use liquor. It was also revealed that 15.6 percent of male schoolchildren and three percent of female schoolchildren smoke, use other illegal drugs such as Baabul, Beeda etc. according to statistics given to the media in March 2018. Those percentages may have further increased during the past few years.  

Nowadays youth and almost all others use social media to become popular no matter what they do and who they abuse. This trend has become worse during travel restrictions because people have nothing to do in their homes. They have nothing to do at their homes due to wrong attitudes cultivated in them as a result of social destruction taking place here in Sri Lanka since 1977. 

Many spend their entire time on social media posting various harmful video clips. Many of them think that something related to alcohol can make them heroes. This is why they post various video clips made using the consumption of alcohol and related products. No doctor is able to educate them on the negative effects of consuming alcohol because of their wrong attitude towards life. The only way out is imposing the toughest possible punishment through laws and publicizing such punishments via the media.     

Agro-chemicals can have deadly consequences. 

The other burning issue is various efforts made by some media and some officials in order to bring back poisonous agro-chemicals. GMOA President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya pointed out that it is corrupt officials in state Ministries who try to promote poisonous agro-chemicals because they can earn large sums of money by importing and distributing them.

The best part is this. None of the Sri Lankan farmers consume what they grow to sell to the people. All of them maintain a small fully organic section in their home garden with the same varieties of fruits and vegetables they grow on a large scale. They do this for family consumption. The family does not consume poisonous fruits or vegetables they grow on a large scale. They know exactly how poisonous all the agro-chemicals are and never consume fruits or vegetables produced using them. They never allow their family members to consume their own products. But they give it to all the other people in the country.

Many people consume them thinking that they had been produced without any poisonous agro-chemicals or thinking that a ‘small’ amount of poisonous agro-chemicals in them will not do any harm, which is a myth. It is a long-term poisoning process which causes cancer and all the other terminal diseases.      

When considering this situation, someone can say that Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology (CKDU) is something that arose as a curse for the anti-social behaviour of people. Gradually poisoning people in a country is a crime against humanity. But taking a decision to save the lives of innocent people who get killed without knowing that they consume poison is a heroic act. The credit for this heroic act goes to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.                 

Poisonous agro-chemicals are now becoming a threat for heavily populated urban areas because people bring them home and spray them freely in their small-scale home gardens without any concern about the well-being of their neighbours. Anyone can smell agro-chemicals even in a semi-urban area. This new trend is dangerous because people living in the area inhale them directly. What people want is big and undamaged flowers, fruits and vegetables no matter how poisonous they are. This tragedy which had been a curse for Sri Lanka for several decades will be stopped with the ban imposed on agro-chemicals.

Nadira Gunatilleke

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