The National STD/AIDS Programme (NSAP) has been stating recently that
data obtained by them have shown a considerable increase in the number
of female HIV positives, compared to males.
We have been looking at data published by UNAIDS/WHO and find the
following information in the fact sheets. The UNAIDS/WHO estimates for
end 2003 and end 2005 for adults (15-49) years are as follows.
2003 Total 3500, Females 600 (17.1%)
2005 Total 5000, Females less than 1000. If this is 900, (18%)
According to the fact sheets, the estimates are made based on data
supplied by the national programmes. It is quite evident that there has
been no change in the male/female ratio.
The increase in the female proportion stated by the NSAP are the HIV
positives detected during a particular period. We feel that this
increase is due to several factors such as (1) more females being tested
(2) more individuals in the high risk groups tested e.g. female sex
workers etc as the NSAP reports conveniently forget to indicate the
number of the tests carried out in the various groups.
At the same time it is stated that there are 30,000 child
prostitutes. Even the LTTE website Tamilnet quotes this statement to
give prominence to what is happening in the South.
The NSAP also states that 200,000 STD cases occur annually in Sri
Lanka. The programme however reports less than 10,000 cases i.e. 5%
treated in all its clinics. Then, where are the other cases treated?
Who made these estimates and on what basis? Does the NSAP accept
these figures as correct? We in the Southern Province find this hard to
believe based on data that we have collected from our clinics, for the
last few years.
These estimates are made by STD consultants in Colombo. It is well
known that data is being manipulated to exaggerate the situation, to
attract more funds and trips abroad, for those at the centre. All the
STD consultants are concentrated in Colombo and the suburbs, except one,
in Kandy. The Southern Province has never had a consultant to teach
medical students at the Ruhuna University.
The Health Ministry seems to be quite happy that the HIV estimates
continue to be low, although we are aware that no significant preventive
activities are being carried out in the SP. This area has beach boys,
male and female sex workers, drug addicts and plenty of tourists, but
nothing is happening.
Has the NSAP ever thought of investigating why the HIV estimates
continue to be low? It is high time that the Health Ministry does a
thorough investigation of this programme and set things right.
It is reported that British Foreign Secretary, Margaret Becket has
protested to the US about their use of Prestwick Airport in Western
Scotland, to transport laser guided bombs to Israel. Speaking on the
same issue, Sir Menzies Cambell of the Lib. Dems. has said, it is
particularly provocative for the United States to have acted in this
The SNP leader, Alex Salmond has criticized the UK government for
acting as an aircraft carrier for the US. The question is, US being the
biggest law breaker of the world, whether it will care for any of these
protests. President Bush treats the entire world with utmost contempt,
It is amazing to note that the same President Bush is accusing Syria
and Iran for arming the Hezbollah, while he is arming Israel to the
teeth, at a time when hundreds of civilians, many children and United
Nation observers have already been eliminated by similar laser guided
While this intensive arming process is going on, can we ever dream of
any ceasefire. While Lebanon is on focus, Gaza is suffering in silence
with intensified Israeli attacks. The world looks powerless and gutless
to stand against the two dominant countries US and its 53rd State,
H.E. the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa has banned the screening of the
film 'Da Vinci Code' in the country, acceding to the request of the
Catholic Bishops' Conference in Sri Lanka. The film gives a distorted
version of the life of Christ, quite contradictory to the Christian
belief. The film based on Dan Brown's novel depicts that Mary Magdalene
had a child by Christ.
It is nothing but fair for the Catholic Bishops' Conference to make a
request to ban the film as it is a degradation of the life of Christ and
his divinity. If it is screened in Sri Lanka it would have disturbed the
Catholic, misled the children and tarnished the image of Christ among
the non-Christians. Even the Buddhist Bhikkus in Hela Urumaya have
appreciated the banning of the film 'Da Vinci Code'.
However, the Bishops' Conference in Sri Lanka has come under severe
criticism for getting the film banned. Some contend that it has no
meaning when the book on which the film is based on is in circulation.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that the cinema has a direct and vast impact
on the people, than a book.
Others submit that the film is not banned in some Catholic countries
in Europe. It is a well known fact that religion is not taken seriously
in Europe. In Catholic countries the churches are empty on Sundays and
only around 10% seem to practise the religion. The situation is quite
different in Sri Lanka.
There are also others who observe that Catholics should not be unduly
worried as the film is based only on fantasy created by a novel. Let us
take an example. If a film is presented in Sri Lanka on the life of a
statement of the calibre of D. S. Senanayake, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike,
Dr. N. M. Perera or Philip Gunawardena and for that matter even on Sir
John Kothelawala depicting such a personality was a bribe-taker, what
would be the reaction? All without any party affiliations would have
Could the character of Christ whom millions of his followers revere
and worship, be allowed to be distorted?
The unkindest cut of all is that there are some Catholic clergy among
those who find fault with the Bishops' Conference and are not in favour,
getting the film banned. Long before the film 'Da Vinci Code' came to
the scene, there were some Catholic priests who threw aspersions on the
relationship between Christ and Mary Magdalene.
About a decade ago one Catholic priest wrote that Christ would have
loved a woman and another promulgated that Mary Magdalene was the 13th
disciple of Christ. Of course, as things happen today, there might be
some Catholic priests who would like Christ to be a person as depicted
in the film 'Da Vinci Code', for obvious reasons. Taking an overall
picture, the Catholic Bishops' Conference in Sri Lanka has fulfilled its
obligation towards the Catholics by getting the screening of the film 'Da
Vinci Code' banned. The Catholic community should be grateful to H. E.
the President, for banning the film.