The Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan has highly commended Sri Lanka for becoming the first country in Asia to implement laws to minimise the use of drugs and alcohol.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa`s initiative Mathata Thitha (Full stop to drugs and liquor) has set a good example for other countries in the region, Chan has said.
This was revealed by Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva following a meeting with Dr. Chan held after the 60th World Health Assembly held in Geneva.
Dr. Chan has said Sri Lanka has set a record and a very good example for the whole of Asia.
`Many non-communicable diseases that spread across Asia from time to time never hit Sri Lanka and it shows the dedication of the Sri Lankan Government and Sri Lankan people towards maintaining good healthcare. The WHO will extend its fullest support to Sri Lanka to maintain this status,` she had stated.
Minister de Silva explained how Sri Lanka has successfully cut down smoking by 90 per cent and alcohol by 40 per cent after introducing the Tobacco and Alcohol Control Act from December 1 last year.
Sri Lanka is one of the four countries in the world that has implemented laws to control the use of tobacco and alcohol. The rest three are developed countries, the Minister pointed out.
Minister de Silva also explained to her that 12 per cent of Sri Lanka`s income depends on the taxes on tobacco and alcohol but Sri Lanka spends 22 per cent of the national income to treat persons who fall sick due to the use of tobacco and alcohol, thus negating any monetary gains.
Considering this situation Sri Lanka has set up Tobacco and Alcohol Authority and closed all liquor outlets for two weeks during all religious and cultural festivals.