Dr harold Gunatillake

Good advice by Dr Harold – Is Fish Oil another Snake Oil?

Talk of the town was coconuts sometime back, how bad it was for the humans, and one lady professor claimed it was poison. Now the focus is on fish oil that has been popular and believed to lower the risk of inflammatory diseases, heart disease, stroke, and improve the intelligence of kids, among others.

A recent study on 15,000 people in the UK published in the New England Journal of Medicine, revealed that participants taking a daily capsule of omega-3 fish oil did suffer from heart attack and stroke as much as people not taking any fish oil. The study revealed that 8.9 per cent of the people given the fish oil capsules suffered a heart attack or stroke, compared to 9.2 percent in a placebo group, and the difference is marginal.

This study was done on diabetics, and not on others. The question is will omega-3 fish oil capsules do help to prevent heart disease and stroke among the non-diabetics? 

Another series of studies done by the South Australian researchers at the Medical Research Institute in Adelaide found that fish oil doesn’t make more intelligent and smarter babies.

A group of women were given a daily dose of 800mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fatty fish during the second half of their pregnancies. A second group of pregnant women were given a placebo.

 The fish-oil kids – at 18 months old- showed no superior or accelerated cognitive, language, and motor development than the babies whose mothers took a placebo.

But, this does not prove that fish oil given to mothers are not doing some good to the foetus.

The beneficial factor in fish oil is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid
(DHA). These two fatty acids have been considered so far to boost optimum brain function and regulating the serotonin levels in the brain. DHA is highly concentrated in the brain, retina, testicles and semen.

People often lack enough omega-3 fats (polyunsaturated), mainly DHA (antiinflammatory)
which is necessary to balance with the inflammatory omega-6 fat ratio. The ratio is considered 1:1.

What this implies is that taking more inflammatory polysaturated fatty acids as cooking oils, or in food may lead to inflammatory diseases. So, you need to increase your omega-3 fatty acids to neutralize the bad effects of the inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega -3 fatty acids are found in vegetables, too. It is an essential fat that our body cannot make. These anti-inflammatory foods can repair damaged cells and restore a healthy balance that can prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease and arthritis. In one study, men took fish oil capsules containing DHA supplements for 12 weeks decreased the concentrations of several inflammatory markers in their blood by about 20%.

These omega-3 fatty acids can be obtained from fatty fish, especially tuna, salmon, mackerel. Vegetables containing omega-3 fat are flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, canola oil,

In another study it was found that fish oil higher in EPA than DHA lowered inflammatory cytokines, associated with neurodegenerative and autoimmune diseases.

Studies also showed that a dietary supplementation of fish oil lowers the activity of chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis and migraine headaches.

It is observed that arthritic patients benefit and respond well on taking 10 capsules of fish oil a day.

The National Heart Foundation in Australia advises some people with high risk factor for heart attack or existing heart disease to take omega-3 supplements.

Despite the above two studies mentioned- population studies have consistently found that omega-3 fatty acids cut down the risk of heart disease by 18 per cent.

Why then eat fish?

Fish is recommended twice a week for people, because of its health benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids in the body of oily fish, which includes eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids being anti-inflammatory in action prevents chronic inflammatory diseases as mentioned earlier, including heart disease.

The rate of coronary heart disease among Japanese men is less than on third that of the U.S. at 45.8 (per 100,000/year). While American men have a rate of 150.7, though the percentage of men who smoke is 35.4%, more than double the rate of 17.2% in the U.S.

Japanese eat a lot more fish than Americans, and this is important, since omega-3 fatty acids, the type in which fish is abundant, are protective against heart disease

A study done in 2005 found that the more fish the Japanese ate, the higher was their consumption of omega-3 fats, and the lower was their rate of heart disease

Bottomline: Do not get discouraged by the two studies showing that fish oil does not benefit to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and not help in enhancing the I.Q. of  kids.

Population studies and epidemiological observations prove otherwise.

Hope this article will convince you to continue taking fish oil supplements

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Desmond rocked Kandy – Reported by Dr Harold Gunatillake
Desmond desilva

“The great entertainer of all times” performed at the Royal Crown hotel, Ampitiya Kandy, Sri Lanka, on the 2nd September for a crowd of over 1000 young and old merry-makers.

Youthful golden voice has not changed after decades of performing and considered as the “King of Baila”.

The hall was packed with young and old revelers, and there was hardly any space on the dance floor left when Desmond started his renditioned accomplished English and Sinhalese old songs of his top hits followed by his favourite Baila sessions which continued till on midnight.

Kandy mayor Kesara Senanayake was one of the chief guests.

It was a very memorable event for the revelers, and more the hotel service was par excellence.

Desmond desilva


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Update on egg



Good advice by Dr. Harold

Eat eggs for breakfast will prevent a stroke?

We were all deprived of eating eggs by nutritionists and researchers in the past, and awhole generation felt not to eat eggs because they were told that an egg is a ‘ball ofcholesterol’ and would increase your cholesterol numbers in your blood to cause cardiovasculardisease. It was the same story with coconut oil because of the saturated fatcontained in them and the fear that it will cause heart disease.

Today, we know that eating eggs do not   nfluence the serum cholesterol numbers, and you could enjoy two eggs a day with no guilt. Your cholesterol levels are more  influenced by the saturated and trans-fat you eat in such food. Studies show thateggs consistently raise HDL (the good) cholesterol

New research has shown that eating an egg a day may protect against
cardiovascular disease, according to a study published online May 21 by the
journal Heart. Researchers found that people who ate one egg every morning
had an 18% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 28%
lower risk of having a haemorrhagic stroke, compared with people who did
not eat eggs.

This study was on more than 400,000 adults ages between 30 to 79. All participants were from 10 survey sites in China. The participants were given eggs to eat and were traced their health for nearly nine years using registries and other methods.

So, there you are- you can eat at least one egg with breakfast every morning, and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, heart attacks and related events, haemorrhagic stroke and ischemic stroke are far more less than those who don’t eat eggs. (ref: Harvard Women’s Health Watch)

Eggs contain good quality protein and are a good source of healthy fats includingomeg-3 fats. You can eat up to six or seven eggs each week. Eating omega-3 enriched eggs can lower your blood triglycerides.

A single medium sized egg contains 186 mg of cholesterol, which is 62% of the recommended daily intake.

Leave out the bacon and restrict your butter. Always, eat whole meal bread and avoid eating white bread though tastier.

The healthiest way to eat eggs is to boil, poach or scramble them using low fat milk.

A health breakfast would be making a three-egg omelette with capsicum, spinach and mushroom and eat on a slice of whole meal bread.

Fortunately, Sri Lankans can now eat wholemeal grainy bread as they are available in the super-markets, but unfortunately, they are double the price of white bread and much smaller in size.

Can you eat scrambled eggs every day?

Yes, is the answer. You could include three eggs scrambled per day.

Eggs help to make steroid hormone testosterone in men, estrogen in women and cortisol a hormone secreted in your body during times of stress.

Eggs are good for your eyes

Eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin helps to reduce your risk of eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts.

Bottom line: If an egg contains the ingredients and nutrients to give a new life, why not enjoy and be lively

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Visit to the Super Fish Market, Kandy – By Dr Harold Gunatillake


Visit to the Super Fish Market in William Gopallawa Mawathe, Kandy. Make it a morning outing and enjoy seeing the variety of ocean fresh fish and how they are cut and parceled. Parking available. Fish is moderately priced and the service is most courteous – Filmed by Dr Harold Gunatillake on his vacation


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Good advice by Dr. Harold – People who enjoy a drink are now confused

There is a featured article in HealthDay News- dated Aug 23, 2018, with the caption, “Alcohol Helps Kill 2.8 Million People Globally Each Year”. It further says, the new analysis of hundreds of studies conducted between 1990 and 2016 found that one in three people worldwide (2.4 billion people) drink alcohol, and that 6.8 percent of men and 2.2 percent of women die of alcohol-related health problems each year.
How the United States fits into those figures is unclear. It was not among the top or bottom 10 for the most or the heaviest drinkers in 2016. Denmark led the list for most drinkers (97 percent of men and 95 percent of women), while Romania (men) and Ukraine (women) had the heaviest drinkers.

Denmark has a long history of brewing and distilling tasty alcoholic beverages, including Akvavit, Mead, Brennivin, Carlsberg Beer, Grog, and wines.

The mere fact that they produce such a variety of beverages-also infers that Danish are good drinkers.

However, the life expectancy among Danish is 81.10 years, (2015): Sweden 82.55: Ireland 82.86 years.

Denmark since the mid-19th century had the 5th highest life expectancy in the world.

Europeans drink more than the inhabitants of any other country. In 2005, they consumed 12.18 pure liters of alcohol per capita compared to the 8.67 liters per capita consumed in the Americas, 6.23 liters in southwestern Asia, and 6.15 liters in Africa.

Ireland consumed 14.1 liters of pure alcohol per capita, putting them well ahead of the boozy Russians.

Consumption of alcoholic beverages is a worldwide pursuit to relax, enjoy company, drown sorrows, tackle stress, happy events, celebrations, and so on. Without alcoholic beverages there wouldn’t be a joyful event and would be most dull and boring.

When the world population is 7.2 billion, one should expect more than the figure 2.8 million people to die of alcohol related death, if such large numbers are considered to drink globally.

This article does not encourage people to drink, but the stats reveal the mortality figures is quite insignificant, and should expect bigger numbers, if alcohol is such a killer.

In Sri Lanka, the very poor drink the well-known illegal brew-Kasippu’ in rural areas, and in towns the consumption of wines, beer and spirits are unbelievable. Every corner in Colombo streets there are wine-shops and such places are crowded in the evenings to purchase their grog. Toddy another local brew obtained from palmyra and coconut seems to be popular among the country folk.

Most business and affluent people in Sri Lanka seems to drink heavily at parties and functions, as they engage drivers to take them home.
Life expectancy in Sri Lanka, according to the latest WHO data published in 2018 life is: Male 72.1, female 78.5 and total life expectancy is 75.3. Life expectancy in Sri Lanka seems to rise over the years though being a heavy drinking country.
There is another interesting recent article written by Racheal Rettner for Live Science under the caption, “There’s No ‘Safe’ Level of Alcohol Consumption, Global Study Finds”

The article states that, drinking alcohol in moderation is more harmful than previously thought, according to a new study that concludes there’s no “safe” level of alcohol consumption.

So far, The American Heart Association has pronounced that the incidence of heart disease in those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (no more than two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women) is lower than in nondrinkers. However, with increased intake of alcohol, there are increased health dangers including high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, among others.

Also, the AHA states that it is not possible to predict in which people alcoholism will become a problem. Given these and other risks, the American Heart Association cautions people NOT to start drinking … if they do not already drink alcohol. Consult your doctor on the benefits and risks of consuming alcohol in moderation.

Every sensible person knows that drinking more alcohol as a habit increases such dangers as alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents.

It is our belief, and looking around within our families, friends, and others, drinking socially has done very little harm, and having one or two drinks with your loved ones at the end of the day makes you more relaxed and beneficial to good health. This could be the reason that moderate drinkers live longer than the teetotalers.

There is a third article written by Harvard T. H. Chan -school of public health-updates dated 24 August 2018., under the caption, “Alcohol: balancing benefits and risks”.

The article states, “Moderate drinking can be healthy—but not for everyone. You must weigh the risks and benefits. Harvard Chan nutrition experts reviewed the research on alcohol”.

The article states that it’s safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison. The difference lies mostly in the dose.

It is our view, that those who enjoy a night cap (alcoholic drink taken before bedtime), should continue with no guilt. Lots of people after a hard day’s work seem to wind-down after just say one cognac, sleep well and ready for another day with no hangovers. Your liver can detoxify small amounts of alcohol and eliminate through your kidneys with no harm.

Similarly, those who have a glass of red wine with the meal should continue, alone or with your family whilst dining
The problem arises if you desire to have a second drink, and that could with time become another third drink. You may become an alcoholic without your knowing. This is the danger in drinking, and that’s what’s counted as an alcohol related mortalities and morbidities. That drink you enjoyed becomes a poison with time.

Heavy drinking can lead to inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis) and then lead to scarring (cirrhosis) a fatal situation. Heavy drinking can increase your blood pressure and damage your heart (cardiomyopathy) and linked with several cancers.

There is a link between women who drink alcohol developing breast cancer. In a combined analysis of six large prospective studies involving more than 320,000 women, drinking 2-5 drinks a day compared with those women who don’t drink, the risk of getting breast cancer was high as 41%. However, in Sri Lanka, our women rarely drink alcohol, but the incidence of breast cancer among them is very high.

The article further states that moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. More than 100 prospective studies show an inverse association between light to moderate drinking and risk of heart attack, ischemic clot caused attacks, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death and so on.

Bottom line: The choice is yours, whether to enjoy a drink daily or occasionally, or be a teetotaler. If you can draw the line a drink or two in the evenings after work would make your life worth living.

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Coconut is a Poison-

By Dr.Harold

Coconut is a poison- so it is going to kill all people who eat coconut products and using oil for cooking. Half the population of the world will be wiped out soon.


Coconut is a Poison

Coconut is not a Poison……
Coconuts-its meat, water and the oil have stood the test of time as a beneficial and health providing ingredient in daily Asian cooked foods for millions of years since the existence of the coconut palms, for humans along the equator, Pacific Basin, Islanders, Thais, Indians, Sri Lankans, middle East inhabitant, They have all been using coconut meat in the preparation of foods (curries included), as scrapings or as squeezed milk,or as an oil for deep and stir frying, daily. Remember the ‘Pol Sambol’ a healthy treat and a good accompaniment to most Asian preparations.

As you fly into Kerala, you might be amazed by the pervasive green that greets you as you’re about to land. The sea of palm fronds that stretches for as far as the eye can see makes it clear why Kerala or Keralam (as it is known in Malayalam) is called ‘alam’ meaning the land of, and ‘kera’ meaning coconut.

Keralites though eating this ‘poisonous coconut’ in their daily foods are quite healthy and active. True, there is a high incidence of heart disease in Kerala, so do in other parts of the world.

These bashings, demonizing seems to follow a pattern, every three to fourmonths being published through sponsorships by the giant companies with vested interest.

If they bash butter- also containing saturated fats, exported by New Zealand, their economy would be in crisis. Same applies to meat exports. Meat also contains as much saturated fat and if demonized, it would further add to the economic downfall of the country.

The Westerners will dare not touch demonizing butter or meat, but coconut products imported to the US is given a bash frequently.

Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, which is a higher percentage than butter (about 64% saturated fat), beef fat (40%), or even lard (also 40%).

So, does it matter that coconuts have more saturated fat and should be condemned as a ‘Poison’.

Guidelines on your saturated fat per day intake. NHS guidelines on how much saturated fat per day (known as the “recommended intake”, or “RI”) to have state that: The average man should eat no more than 30 grams of saturated fat daily. The average woman should have less than 20 grams of saturated fat per day.

100gram coconut has 30 grams of saturated fat. If a family uses a coconut a day in their food, the amount of fat each member of the family consumes will be very little.

The American Heart foundation states limit your daily saturated fat content to 10 per cent.

On the same token there are fad diets with high fat and low carbs,recommended by doctors, and lots of ladies use such diets for losing weight.

It is the fear that saturated fats increase LDL cholesterol leading to heart disease that was believed in the past. 

Regarding the observational evidence, meta-analyses of this data consistently find no association between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. Moreover, there is a substantial observational finding that low consumption of saturated fats is associated with higher mortality and higher rates of stroke.

In the speech given at the University of Freiburg, Dr Michels stated that coconut oil is “one of the worst foods you can eat” due to the damaging effect the saturated fatty acids in the coconut oil can have on your body.

Where is the research, where is the proof through studies? Just surmising is not scientific evidence.

Do not take this university don’s article seriously. There are such sporadic outbursts from the West and should be ignored. Those who love coconuts and its products, please enjoy daily. It is not a poison.

Dr Gunatillake-Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US),Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey). Government scholar to the UK for higher studies.

Sri lanka events in Australia






Good advice by Dr. Harold

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Keeping your Circulatory system, healthy

There are two circulatory systems: blood circulatory system and lymphatic system in our body, and efficient working of those systems keep us healthy and shapely, too. 

We are only discussing about the blood circulatory system, also called cardio-vascular system, in this article. The central pump (heart) including the receiving pump in thissystem are the central figures most important to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the cells of the body and return the de-oxygenated blood (bad blood) back to the right chambers of the heart be sent to the left chambers of the heart after purification( oxygenation) in the lungs.Just like the circulatory system the pump (heart) needs to be maintained in prime condition to remain healthy.

 The complex system of circulation that supplies nutrients and oxygen can get disturbed and result in diseases detrimental to our health.

 The pipes (arteries) in this system can get damaged. In healthy situations, they are flexible, elastic and expandable, as seen mostly in young kids. In a condition called Atherosclerosis these pipes can get hardened in patches with fatty deposits from your food and other inflammatory processes, may cause partial obstruction to the flow of oxygenated blood and micronutrients, resulting in irreparable harm to your body.

Such pathological changes do occur with age, and lifestyle changes. High blood pressure is one of the commonest outcomes of thickened arteries. High blood pressure may affect your heart, kidneys, eyes, cognitive decline and may lead to stroke through neglect.

There is a difference between ‘Arteriosclerosis’ and ‘Atherosclerosis’. One could say that the latter is a specific type of arteriosclerosis. The former occurs through aging and is a natural phenomenon in all human beings. Over time the walls in your arteries can harden for no definite reasons, other than just aging and genetics may play a part in it.

When you are over forty, you need to check your blood pressure yearly, failing will result being a victim to this silent killer.

According to the American Heart Association under the new guidelines the BP should be below 130/80 from 140/90 millimeters of mercury. Above these figures you enter the criteria for stage 1 hypertension.

Lifestyle changes without pills can lower blood pressure, during this early stage of hypertension. Lose weight, read labels, avoid foods containing very high amounts of sodium (salt) such as breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizzas, and Chinese food. Did you know that Chinese and Japanese food includes lot of salt? It is paradoxical why those nations do not show a higher incidence of hypertension and other circulatory problems.

Heart disease: Not only blood vessels supplying the periphery of the body gets affected in hypertension, the coronary blood vessels of your heart can get constricted with hypertension. These vessels get blocked by blood clots and lead to anginal episodes and heart attacks. So, always keep your BP in the normal approved range.

With chronic neglected hypertension your heart valves can prolapse and lead to incomplete closure, leading to leak and back flow of blood (regurgitation). Narrowing of the valves in hypertension can cause stenosis (narrowing) and preventing the free flow of blood from the heart.

Arrhythmias: With uncontrolled blood pressure, the heart muscles get strained and stressed and contractions could become erratic, can cause abnormal heart rates and rhythms. You could always self-diagnose this condition from feeling an irregular pulse rate at your wrist, or a dropped beat.

High cholesterol: You may have read that cholesterol has made a U turn, giving you the idea not to worry about eating foods with high cholesterol. It is partially true that cholesterol in your food such as in eggs may not influence the cholesterol numbers in your blood, but remember most foods have high saturated fats along with natural cholesterol that harms. So, avoid unhealthy diets, and lead an active life with regular exercise to lower your cholesterol in your blood. The bad cholesterol (LDL) do collects in plaques and damage the blood vessels (arteries). If you have high cholesterol due to genetic factors, you need to take statins to control the cholesterol numbers in your blood.

Heart failure: With high blood pressure the peripheral blood vessels tend to get stiff and non-elastic. This leads to back pressure on your pump (heart) and cause additional strain on your left ventricle that pumps your blood to the rest of your body.

Neglecting your hypertension ultimately leads to heart failure. Initially the heart muscles get hypertrophied (expanded). At this stage x rays reveal an enlarged heart. If no remedial action is taken the muscles can get weak and go into failure. At this terminal stage, there is water-logging in your body, lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, coughing, and lead to a miserable life causing much misery to yourself and loved ones.

Stroke: Due to high blood pressure the vessels supplying the brain can rupture, or lead to blockage with blood clots and prevent oxygen from getting to the brain.

Most strokes are preventable. You only need to keep your BP under control with healthy lifestyle changes.

Peripheral artery disease (PAD): With chronic hypertension your peripheral blood vessels could narrow just like the central ones. Uncontrolled diabetes is one of the main culprits that can cause this condition, and ultimately leads to gangrene of limbs needing amputation. Such incidents are rare today, as most people have access to good health care.

Carotid artery stenosis: In addition to narrowing of the limb vessels, it is quite common to see the carotid arteries supplying blood to the brain getting restricted with plaque formation in these main vessels in the neck. The plaques can get dislodged, ulcerate and bleed, causing a condition called Transient ischemic attacks (TIA). This leads to a transient stroke, a warning sign for action to prevent a full- blown stroke.

Aortic aneurysms: Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to ‘ballooning out” at weak points I your blood vessels, as at bifurcations of vessels. These bulges or aneurysms could burst and become medical emergencies.

Other factors: To keep your circulatory system healthy you need to be aware of the consequences of neglect. Smoking can damage your blood vessels. Fortunately, the incidence of smoking among the adults are reducing, whilst it catches on among the young and in third world countries where the cigarette companies still promote through advertising.

Being overweight could be a strain on your heart and circulatory system. However, awareness, keeping your weight under controlled with healthy low-calorie diets and exercise the risk could be reduced.

Inflammation from diseases: There are certain diseases where thickening and narrowing of blood vessels are inevitable, includes arthritis, lupus an autoimmune disease, and inflammation due to unknown causes.

Conclusions: Be aware of circulatory diseases and take lifestyle measures to prevent them. Do not weight to see the doctor until you get a life-threatening circulatory problem, as they are all preventable unless there is a congenital or familial factor.

Eating a healthful diet, checking your BP regularly, exercising, not smoking can avoid these preventable issues in your circulatory system. If you are a diabetic, you need to tightly control blood sugar levels with proper diet and medication.

Hope this article will help you to stay fit and lively.

Dr Gunatillake-Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US), Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey). Government scholar to the UK for higher studies.


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