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As COVID-19 cases surge, WHO provides over 340 MT of essential supplies to countries in South-East Asia Region

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NEW DELHI: To support countries across South-East Asia Region respond to the rapid surge in COVID-19 cases, WHO has provided over 340 MT of essential medical supplies and medicines, and continues to mobilize more to fill critical gaps.

“Thousands of oxygen concentrators, testing kits, hospital beds, tents and  personal protective equipment  are among critical supplies that are being shipped to countries and rushed to areas where they are needed the most,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, adding.

In India, which in recent weeks accounted for a large proportion of global cases, essential supplies have reached 26 States and Union Territories, within days of a major consignment of medical equipment landing in New Delhi.

“These supplies will help meet immediate needs while countries make long term arrangements,” the Regional Director said.

Last week, 4,000 oxygen concentrators, more than 120 tents, 400 medical beds for mobile hospitals, 1.2 million respirator masks, and 650,000 disposable sampling kits were flown into Delhi.

Most recently, WHO has rushed 60 metric tons of much needed diarrheal disease kits, and (personal protective equipment) PPEs to Bangladesh. The rapid deployment of these life-saving medicines and medical supplies is vital to WHO’s ongoing health emergency response efforts, Dr Khetrapal Singh said.

Earlier, WHO provided 43 metric tons of supplies including PPEs, diarrheal disease kits, tents, pulse oximeter, infrared thermometers and field deployment kits to Timor-Leste to respond to pandemic as well as floods that hit the island country last month.

Jointly assessing needs and gaps with countries in the Region, WHO is bringing in more supplies in the coming weeks for Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka.

“Collective efforts are needed to strengthen pandemic response. WHO is committed to working with all countries in the Region and supporting them in the current surge and beyond,” the Regional Director said.

With support from partners and donors, supplies worth USD 15 million have been provided to countries in the current surge.

Since early 2020, WHO has been working alongside governments to respond to the pandemic. Assisting with surveillance and monitoring, repurposing and deploying WHO staff wherever needed and most recently preparing roll out COVID-19 vaccination.  Providing funding and assistance with supplies such as PPEs, laboratory reagents and other equipment continue to be among key areas of WHO support.

“This is a battle that cannot be fought alone. To curtail the pandemic, we must work together and step up to help each other within and outside our borders,” he said.



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Full implementation of 13A: NFF vows to torpedo Ranil’s move, asks Dinesh, Mahinda to disclose their stance

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF), a constituent member of Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya (NJS), has declared that it would oppose President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s bid to fully implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. The patriotic people were ready to defeat such plans, even at the expense of their lives, the party has vowed.

The breakaway JVP faction consists of six MPs, including former minister Wimal Weerawansa. The NJS is contesting the Local Government polls, scheduled for March 09, under the ‘Helicopter’ symbol.

NFF spokesperson, MP Jayantha Samaraweera, on Monday (30), told the media that his party was ready to lead a campaign against the UNP leader’s move to do away with constitutional safeguards meant to ensure Sri Lanka’s unitary status. The Lawmaker addressed the media at the NFF main office, at Pitakotte.

Having declared his intention to fully implement the controversial constitutional amendment at the Thai Pongal celebrations, in Jaffna, on January 15, President Wickremesinghe reiterated his commitment to the Eelam project during the party leaders’ meeting at the Presidential Secretariat, the former State Minister said.

Lawmaker Samaraweera asked Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, and twice President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had flanked President Wickremesinghe, at the party leaders’ meeting, to disclose their stand on 13th Amendment.

The Nidahas Janatha Sandhanaya, consisting of NFF, Democratic Left Front, Communist Party, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya, Pivuthuru Hela Urumaya, Vijayadharani Jathika Sabhawa, Yuthukama, Sri Lanka Freedom Party, Nidahasa Janatha Sabhawa, Jana Jaya Peramuna, Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya and Nidahas Janatha Peramuna, has yet to disclose its position on this issue.

MP Samaraweera attacked the President, close on the heels of NFF leader Wimal Weerawansa, who is also the Chairman of the Uththara Lanka Sabhagaya (ULS), questioning the legitimacy of the move. Lawmaker Weerawansa addressed this issue at a meeting held at the BMICH, on January 26, to discuss ways and means to thwart the move to privatize the CEB.

The ULS consisting of seven political parties, and groups, is aligned with the NJS.

Referring to the circumstances UNP leader Wickremesinghe re-entered Parliament, through the National List, nearly a year after the last General Election, former Minister Weerawansa emphasized the President didn’t have a mandate to fully implement the 13th Amendment. How could the UNP leader abolish Sri Lanka’s unitary status, having received an opportunity to complete Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s remainder of five-year term, won at the Nov. 2019 Presidential Election.

The MP challenged their erstwhile comrades, in the JVP, to state their position on the 13th Amendment. Alleging that the JVP had been conveniently silent on the issue at hand, MP Samaraweera asked whether the current leadership would take up Wickremesinghe’s challenge.

In addition to Weerawansa and Samaraweera, Yuthukama leader Gevindu Cumaratunga, MP, has declared opposition to the President’s move, at the party leaders’ meeting.

Of the SLPP parliamentary group, retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera is the only MP to publicly oppose Wickremesinghe’s proposal.

Political sources said that the NJS, as a group contesting the forthcoming LG polls, was yet to deliberate this issue and take a stand. They said that consensus was required without further delay as the President’s proposal would be a major issue at the forthcoming election.

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PHU, too, opposes land, police powers to PCs

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A lawyers’ group, aligned with Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU), yesterday (31) said that President Ranil Wickremesinghe couldn’t unilaterally decide on the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Attorneys-at-Law Pasan Gunasekera and Bhupathi Kahathuduwa, in a statement issued, explained why police and land powers, in terms of the controversial amendment, shouldn’t be granted to Provincial Councils. Abolition of current constitutional safeguard would undermine Sri Lanka’s unitary status thereby paved the way for a new conflict.

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Bangladesh FM to deliver LK memorial lecture

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Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen, will deliver the Lakshman Kadirgamar memorial lecture at Block 3, Jasmine Hall, BMICH, on February 03, at 6 pm.

The LTTE assassinated the then Foreign Minister, Kadirgamar, on Aug. 12, 2005.

FM Momen will deliver the annual lecture on the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies.

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