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Chinese Ambassador underlines strong bonds with Sri Lanka as China donates more vaccine

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The friendship between Sri Lanka and China had reached new heights during the Covid-19 pandemic, Qi Zhenhong, Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka said on Thursday night at the Bandaranaike International Airport while handing over another batch of Sinopharm vaccine to Sri Lankan officials.

 On 31 March China had donated 600, 000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to Sri Lanka and another batch of 500,000 vaccines arrived in the country on Tuesday night.

Ambassador Zhenhong said that COVID-19 is the common enemy of everyone and unity and solidarity are the most powerful weapons fighting the pandemic.

“At the Global Health Summit on May 21st, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China has offered 2 billion US dollars in aid so far to developing countries as well as free vaccines for 80 countries with 43 other countries importing its vaccines. In continued support for global solidarity against COVID-19, China will provide an additional 3 billion US dollars in international aid over the next three years, provide more vaccines to the best of its ability, and support its vaccine companies in transferring technologies to other developing countries including Sri Lanka, and carrying out joint production with them,” he said.    

The ambassador said that on April 27th, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and their Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan counterparts reached a series of important consensus and concrete outcomes, on jointly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovering the economy. The arrival of the vaccines yesterday is a direct delivery of their consensus and outcomes.

 “Since the outbreak of the pandemic, China and Sri Lanka have always supported and helped each other, lifting our traditional friendship to a new height. As a good neighbour, good friend and good partner of Sri Lanka through thick and thin, no matter what in the past, present or future, as long as something is beneficial to Sri Lanka, China will never be absent. As long as some work delivers benefits to the Sri Lankan people, China will not hesitate to do it,” Ambassador Zhenhong said.

 Minister of Health, Pavithra Wanniarachchi, State Minister of Pharmaceuticals Production, Prof. Channana Jayasumana, Minister of Sports, Namal Rajapaksa, Minister of Tourism, Prasanna Ranatunga, State Minister of Aviation D.V Chanaka, President’s advisor Lalith Weeratunga and Airport Chairman Major Genaral (ret) G.A Chandrasiri were present at the airport to receive the vaccines.



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Haiti police riot after crime gangs kill 14 officers

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Protesters attempted to break into the Haitian prime minister's residence (picture BBC)

BBC reported that Rebel police officers rioted in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Thursday following the killing of more than a dozen colleagues by criminal gangs.

The rioting officers blame the government for not taking action.

More than 100 demonstrators blocked streets, burned tyres, broke security cameras and damaged vehicles.

Local media said several officers broke through the gates of the prime minister’s residence and attempted to enter Haiti’s international airport.

Fourteen officers are thought to have died since the start of the year in various gang attacks on police stations.

Seven officers were killed in shootout on Wednesday alone, according to Haiti’s National Police.

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Gold-covered mummy among latest discoveries in Egyptian tomb

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One of four newly discovered tombs at the Saqqara archaeological site south of Cairo (picture BBC)

BBC reported that archaeologists say they have found a gold leaf-covered mummy sealed inside a sarcophagus that had not been opened for 4,300 years.

The mummy, the remains of a man named Hekashepes, is thought to be one of the oldest and most complete non-royal corpses ever found in Egypt.

It was discovered down a 15m (50ft) shaft at a burial site south of Cairo, Saqqara, where three other tombs were found.

One tomb belonged to a “secret keeper”.

The largest of the mummies that were unearthed at the ancient necropolis is said to belong to a man called Khnumdjedef – a priest, inspector and supervisor of nobles.

Another belonged to a man called Meri, who was a senior palace official given the title of “secret keeper”, which allowed him to perform special religious rituals.

A judge and writer named Fetek is thought to have been laid to rest in the other tomb, where a collection of what are thought to be the largest statues ever found in the area had been discovered.

Several other items, including pottery, have also been found among the tombs.

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Health crisis: GMOA calls for WHO intervention

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Alleging the government has failed to address the developing crisis caused by grave shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has called for WHO’s intervention.In a letter dated January 26, 2023, addressed to WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, GMOA Secretary Dr. Haritha Aluthge has raised concerns about shortage of pharmaceutical drugs, escalating prices of medicines and allegations of malpractices and corruption in procurement procedures.

The GMOA has released its letter to the media along with what it called a 10 fold plan formulated by an expert committee set up by the GMOA.

The following are the GMOA’s proposals:

1. To appoint a high-level coordinating committee within the Ministry of Health to ensure effective communications and coordination between following institutions, identified as responsible for the whole exercise. (a) Ministry of Health focal points (b) Medical Supplies Division (MSD) (c) State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) d. State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) e. National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Monthly progress review meetings of aforementioned committees are to be ensured, with Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Health or his representative. Quarterly review with Minister of Health to facilitate arriving at essential policy decisions.

2. To ensure Transparent Procurement Procedures, where every interested citizen should be entitled to know the true facts.

3. To upgrade the available computer software programme to match the current needs and to ensure more efficiency in procurement procedures.

4. To appoint a technical committee to study Auditor General Reports with regard to procurement Procedures of last 5 years and actions to be declared with specific time frame to implement recommendations of the Auditor General.

5. Review the recent Presidential Investigation Commission reports and initiate urgent actions to file legal action against the respondents. Remove all those officials who are accused through these reports of malpractices, from their current posts, until the verdicts are delivered.

6. To minimise emergency purchases of Medicinal drugs and ensure the transparency of that process through progress reports on emergency purchases, which is to be published on a monthly basis.

7. To identify alternative modes for distribution of pharmaceutical drugs to peripheral stations (e.g.: Public Transport services with identified modifications)

8. To open an “Information Desk” at the Ministry of Health to effectively communicate with and guide the donors of pharmaceutical items.

9. To fill the existing vacancies at National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), following stipulated acceptable pathways and activating all the sub committees within NMRA.

10. To declare a relief package to reduce the prices of essential medicinal drugs, through the upcoming interim budget.

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