16th March 2018 19:08:28 Hours
Marking a new epoch in the field of military medicine, the Colombo Army Hospital's pet project, 'Healthy Army - Healthy Nation’(HAHN) on Wednesday (14) spread its wings further by induction of its first-ever ‘HAHN Excellence Awards - 2017’ ceremony at the Hospital auditorium, in which laurels were awarded to the ‘Best Health Practising Battalions - 2017’.
Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army as the Chief Guest at the invitation of Major General Dampath Fernando, Chairman, Steering Committee of the HAHN programme and Deputy Chief of Staff graced the glittering ceremony of recognition and appreciation.
Mannar-based 25 Battalion Gemunu Watch (GW) of the 541 Brigade under the 54 Division of the Security Force Headquarters - Wanni (SFHQ-W), amid roars of applause was declared as the ‘Best Health Practising Battalion - 2017’ of the Sri Lanka Army, followed by 5 Corps of Engineer Services and 12 Gajaba Regiment respectively as Runners-up during the awarding ceremony, for which a set of selection criteria was applied by a team of medical experts, led by Brigadier (Dr) Mrs A.S.M Wijewardene. Executive Co-ordinator, HAHN programme and the heavyweight behind the success of the project.
One of the firsts in the Army, the ‘HAHN Excellence Awards - 2017’ which received the blessings of the Commander of the Army when the HAHN Steering Committee met him a few weeks ago for final touches is primarily meant to educate Army personnel on the importance of sustenance of healthy dietary patterns and continued physical fitness at all times. Organizers opine that it would also serve a catalyst to All Ranks, concerned about their physical health while serving across the island.
Today’s felicitation ceremony commenced soon after the day’s Chief Guest, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army arrived at the venue to be received by Major General Dampath Fernando, Chairman, HAHN Steering Committee in the company of Major General (Dr) Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Director General, Army Health Services (DGAHS).
The two-minute silence, as has been the practice in all major Army events, revered the memories of fallen War Heroes who made the supreme sacrifice while defending the country. A documentary screened afterwards enlightened the audience on the evolution of the project and HAHN achievements in the past one year and accommodated the floor for the welcome speech of the Chairman, Steering Committee of the HAHN programme.
The ceremony reached its apex as the Commander was invited to take the centre-stage to award the ‘Best Health Practising Battalion’ of the Sri Lanka Army, 25 Gemunu Watch in Mannar and the Runners-up, 5 Corps of Engineer Services (CES) and 12 Gajaba Regiment respectively as the final segment of the awarding ceremony. As the house erupted to a roaring applause, the Commanding Officer (CO), 25 GW on behalf of all ranks in his Battalion accepted the laurels from the Commander who commended him for the achievement in the project including COs of runners-up.
Prior to the climax, Major General (Dr) Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Director General, Army Health Services (DGAHS) and the Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Dampath Fernando joined the stage respectively to give away appreciative awards to all other achievers in the sequence of winners and hard-working contributors of the project.
A few entertaining features, presented by artistes in the Directorate of Performing Arts, added colour to the awarding ceremony.
The project, one of the firsts in the Army, launched on a new conceptual notion of the Commander of the Army, who always maintains that such good work, should always receive due commendation of the superiors, selected those best Battalions after a special survey on how they remain committed to the cause during the course of the past year.
‘HAHN Excellence Awards’ saw its birth as the final phase of the ongoing ‘Healthy Army - Healthy Nation’ (HAHN) programme of the Colombo Army Hospital, headed by Brigadier (Dr) Mrs A.S.M Wijewardene. Executive Co-ordinator, HAHN project, spearheaded by Major General Dampath Fernando, Deputy Chief of Staff in his capacity as the Chairman, HAHN Steering Committee, has by now covered all island-wide Army formations and introduced their awareness and screening programmes, largely for prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
'HAHN Awards 2017' winners were selected through assessment of applications by an expert panel in each Security Force Headquarters, followed by field verification visits before expert reviews were evaluated to pick the best of the best. An award ceremony of this nature for the first time in the Army would certainly provide a stimulus to all for maintenance of the best standards of health and the need to be in touch with prevalence of NCDs all the time despite one's service commitments.
The HAHN program, consists of three phases (Health Education, Screening, Evaluation) came into being on 19 May 2014 and the impact of the programme has largely contributed to the reduction of premature deaths due to Cardio Vascular diseases, smoking, etc in Army camps.
HAHN has also encouraged policy changes in the Army to support the ban on sale of cigarettes and alcohol in Army camps, provision of healthy snacks at Army meetings and conferences, regular training of Army chefs for healthy cooking. A large gathering of Officers and invitees were associated with the day's grand event.