Source – DailyFT
image source – The Globe and Mail
The Colombo Declaration on Birth Defects will be presented at the ninth International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World (ICBD2020) to be held from 23-26 February.
At a press briefing held on Wednesday, ICBD2020 Conference Chair Dr. Kapila Jayaratne said that the declaration would target the global community and serve as an eye-opener.
“Even at a global level, this issue is not given due recognition,” he said.
The conference is organized by the March of Dimes, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Family Health Bureau, Health Ministry, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention of the US Health and Human Services.
According to Dr. Jayaratne, for every 1,000 infants born in Sri Lanka last year, there were only eight infant deaths. In 2018, there were only 2,560 infant deaths and he said, “70% passed away within 28 days of being born, of whom 30% passed away within the first seven days.”
A quarter of the infants die due to birth defects, which is the second-highest reason for infant deaths. The leading cause is preterm births and prenatal complications.
“If we are to reduce the infant mortality rate in Sri Lanka, we have to take measures on birth defects,” Dr. Jayaratne said, adding that most birth defects could be prevented through measures taken during pregnancy or before conception.
The conference will raise awareness on birth defects through a series of panel discussions and workshops and is expecting the participation of 350 individuals from the health sector. Representatives from 36 countries will attend ICBD2020.
According to Conference Co-Chair Dr. Anula Wijesundere, the event was originally planned to be held in October 2019.
“Unfortunately, due to the Easter attacks, there were travel advisories issued against Sri Lanka by a number of countries. Due to this, we had to postpone the event,” she said.
While the conference agenda will include a visit to the recently-opened National Centre for Children with Disabilities, also known as Ayati, in Ragama, Family Health Bureau Director Dr. Chithramalee De Silva said the construction of a National Centre for Children with Special Needs will commence this year within the premises of the National Institute of Mental Health. The project has received a fund allocation of Rs. 10 million.
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