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Vulnerable persons above 60 to be given first shipment of COVAX jabs procured by UNICEF

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UNICEF has procured and delivering the first shipment of 264,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of the first allocation of the 1.44 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX Facility to the Ministry of Health. 

Led by UNICEF, the procurement and delivery of this supply of the vaccines through the COVAX Facility underpins the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and will provide critical vaccination support for 20 per cent of the population.

The first 264,000 doses from COVAX will be for the most vulnerable persons above 60 years of age group in the most high-risk areas impacted by COVID-19.

As part of the agreement between the Ministry of Health and the COVAX Facility, the supply of the 1.44 million doses will be procured by UNICEF in stages until May 2021, subject to the availability from manufacturers and authorization by WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL).

The UNICEF led supply operation to Sri Lanka on behalf of the COVAX Facility is part of one of the largest global vaccine procurement and supply operations that covers the procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to 92 low- and lower middle-income countries around the world.

As the largest single vaccine buyer in the world, UNICEF is currently geared to deliver 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines globally in 2021.

The first shipment of 264,000 COVAX vaccines is being delivered through UNICEF via Emirates Sky Cargo, one of the ten leading airlines which have signed agreements under UNICEF’s Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative. As part of the agreement with UNICEF, these airlines are committed to support the prioritization of delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, essential medicines, medical devices and other critical supplies to respond to the pandemic and ensure measures such as temperature control and security, increased  freight capacity to routes where needed, are taken.

Additionally, UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Health to support Sri Lanka’s preparedness to receive vaccines and roll-out vaccination plans as part of the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan of the Ministry of Health including supply and logistics, and risk communication and demand generation.

This involves technical support to ensure that the Immunization Supply Chains Management (ISCM) system including the Cold Chain, is in place and ready to receive, store and roll-out the Covid-19 vaccine even to the most difficult-to-reach communities; and the development and implementation of a COVID-19 risk communication and community engagement strategies.

The COVAX Facility is a global collaboration to ensure everyone around the world is provided with equal access to COVID-19 vaccines. The Facility supports the research, development and manufacturing of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccines, price negotiation, and enable equal access to all participating countries. The COVAX Facility is coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO, with UNICEF leading procurement, logistics and storage globally.

 

 



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Appointment of GM led to CEB chief’s resignation?

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By Ifham Nizam

Amidst further deterioration of the power crisis, the Chairman of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) M.M.C. Ferdinando has tendered his resignation to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

In a letter to the President, the Attorney-at-Law said that he is quitting due to personal reasons. Ferdinando will resign as Chairman/Member of the Electricity Board with effect from Feb. 1.

Sources close to Ferdinando said that the incumbent CEB Chairman did not want to be in that position following the appointment of Eng. Dr. D.C.R. Abeysekera as CEB General Manager. Abeysekera received his letter of appointment from Ferdinando on Tuesday (25).

Abeysekera received the appointment at the expense of Dr. Susantha Perera, whose designation as the GM on a temporary basis was resisted by the engineers’ union as he is a retiree.

Retired public servant Ferdinando was brought in as the CEB Chairman on July 19, last year soon after Sri Lanka entered into what was called a framework agreement with the US energy firm, New Fortress Energy. The agreement now challenged in the Supreme Court was finalised on 17 Sept, last year with Ferdinando endorsing it as an Advisor to the Finance Ministry.

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UK indicates sanctions against Lanka military

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By Shamindra Ferdinnado

Close on the heels of UK Foreign Minister Lord Tariq Ahmad’s three-day visit here, the House of Commons has been told that measures were being contemplated as regards the Sri Lankan military.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Minister Amanda Milling has told Parliament that the government regularly engaged with the US and other partners on issues relating to Sri Lanka. She has further said: “The UK government keeps all evidence and potential designations under the UK Global Human Rights sanctions regime under close review, guided by the objectives of the sanctions regime. We would not normally speculate about future sanctions targets, as to do so could reduce their impact.”

The Conservative Party member was responding to Labour Party’s Siobhain McDonagh on Tuesday (25). MP Milling was responding to a query McDonagh posed to the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Elizabeth Truss, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the sanctions imposed by the US on General Shavendra Silva of the Sri Lankan army.

The US in Feb 2020 imposed a travel ban on General Silva, who is also the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Recently, the US extended its action against the Sri Lankan military by issuing travel ban on retired Maj. Gen. Udaya Perera.

The UK based Global Tamil Forum (GTF) has commended the British stand.

Concerned Lankan military sources said that the UK in its capacity as the leader of Sri Lanka Core Group at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council (UNHRC) was planning further measures ahead of the next human rights sessions.

UK based sources told The Island that that type of written parliamentary question was usually answered by a government minister from the FCDO.

Sources explained as this particular question dealt with Sri Lanka, the minister responsible was Lord Tariq Ahmad, but as he represented the House of Lords he couldn’t make statements in the Commons chamber.

Sources added that it would be rare that a question on Sri Lanka would be directly responded to by the Foreign Secretary Truss

Commons member Amanda Milling is Minister of State for Asia, therefore her portfolio closely matches Tariq Ahmad’s brief.

Incidentally, the FCDO now has a British Tamil in a senior position. Maya Sivagnanam is South Asia Deputy Director for the Indian Ocean Region at the FCDO.

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JCPSM token strike cripples hospitals in Western Province

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Strikers want Health Ministry to solve their problems within 10 days

By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) launched a 24-hour token strike yesterday (26) at 7 am at all hospitals in the Western Province. It consists of 16 unions.

The JCPSM has urged the government to address its members’s grievances including salary anomalies and issues related promotions. The strike had crippled hospitals in the province, Health Ministry sources said.

The JCPSM said emergency care, essential services and the treatment of COVID patients had not been affected by the strike.

President of the Government Nurses’ Association and former UNP National List MP Saman Rathnapriya said they had been urging the government to solve their problems for the past two months.

The College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS) President, Ravi Kumudesh told The Island that they would end the token strike by 7 am today m(27) and thereafter give the government 10 days to address their demands.

“We will launch a continuous strike if the demands are not met within 10 days,” he said.

President of the Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) Dr. Rukshan Bellana said that most unions seemed to have lost the ability to solve disputes through negotiations.

“The unions have become too politicised, and the people are suffering as a result.”

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