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WHO, Health Ministry pay tribute to Lankan health workers with new stamp



A health worker felicitated

World Health Organization-Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Ministry of Health on Thursday issued a postage stamp and a special first-day cover to pay tribute THE Sri Lankan health workers leading the country’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Health Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Mass Media Dullas Alahapperuma, World Health Organization Representative to Sri Lanka Dr. Alaka Singh and senior officials of the Ministry of Health presided at the ceremonial release of the commemorative stamp at the auditorium of the Ministry of Health on 30 December 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the health care delivery system and its workforce and there is an urgent need to increase investment and protection for health and care workers. The World Health Organization has designated the year 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers in appreciation and gratitude for their invaluable service in responding to COVID-19 pandemic.

In Sri Lanka, nearly 140 000 health and care workers are employed in the state allopathic sector both in the line ministry and provincial ministry institutions and contributed immensely to the COVID-19 response in diverse capacities at different levels. Health personnel in armed forces, private health sector, traditional and ayurvedic sector, and in community-based organisations also played a significant role in controlling the COVID-19 situation in the country.

The release of special first-day cover and the postage stamp is the inaugural event of a series of provincial level felicitation of health and care workers to be conducted jointly by the WHO Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Health. The primary aim of the felicitation events is to recognize and pay gratitude to health and care workers for their sacrificial service, especially in fighting against COVID-19 and to harness their support to the country’s efforts to build back better beyond COVID-19. The campaign also aims to make all of us aware and recognize the service extended by the health and care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond in reaching universal health coverage. Further, the campaign will be instrumental in advocating the policymakers to invest in and improve the health workforce to achieve the universal health coverage objectives while ensuring fair and decent working environment. In 2021, WHO launched a year-long global campaign under the theme of Protect Invest.

Together with the prime objective of mobilising commitments from member states, international financing institutions, bilateral and philanthropic partners to protect and invest in health and care workers to ensure safe and decent working conditions and to protect their health including mental health. The investment will pay off generously with certainty in terms of health, employment, and economic and social opportunities and will accelerate the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and COVID-19 recovery.

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“Foreign bond holders more important to govt. than hard-pressed people”



SJB slams GR’s policy speech

The main opposition SJB says that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Policy Speech delivered in Parliament on Jan 18 failed to provide solutions to the crises faced by the country.

Addressing a press briefing held at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo on Thursday, SJB MP Eran Wickremaratne said that the crises with regard to economic management and governance had gone beyond the control of the government subjecting the masses to severe hardships without essential goods and services.

Wickremaratne said that  there had been no increase in the value of  GDP supporting the domestic and foreign borrowings by this government during the last two years.

He accused the government of giving priority to paying off debts of foreign cronies while  starving the people without essential foods inclusive of fuel for electricity generation.

“People who could not afford to basic necessities despite having cash in hand due to the shortage of dollars and foreign exchange now had to stay in the dark for several hours a day without electricity due to lack of fuel as the govt has not been able to maintain a supply chain properly. But the government, having crossed its wires, gives priority to repaying the loan to its cronies while mounting pressure on its citizens,” Wickremaratne said.

“President Rajapaksa’s Throne Speech did not provide answers to any of  the current problems  facing the country. Although the country faced two major problems, there was no answer to either of them in the President’s policy statement.

“First, rising commodity prices push up inflation increasing  vegetable prices. Secondly, the import of essential commodities has come to a complete standstill due to the foreign exchange deficit. There is a shortage not only for  food and fuel but also for  medicines for the people.”

He said only 25% of the country’s essential medicines are produced locally and the rest are imported. There is also a shortage of essential medicines due to lack of dollars for imports.

At a time when the people are under so much of  pressure, the government is  boasting of servicing   international sovereign bonds on time. People need to be told the secret of why foreign debtors are more important to the government than the citizens of the country, Wickremaratne said.

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Prevention, cooperation, mutual assistance essential to counter connected nature of terrorists in South Asia – Army Chief



Prevention, cooperation and mutual assistance in controlled measures at international borders are essential to counter the transnational and connected nature of terrorists and criminal activists in the South Asian region, said Chief of Defence Staff and Army Commander General Shavendra Silva on Thursday, emphasising on the need of law enforcement’s institutional reforms based on common and agreed policies.”

“In the legitimate government efforts to fight terrorism or organised crimes, in this regard, a possible South Asian regional treaty could promote counter-terrorism and anti-crime measures by promoting institutional structures and decision-making processes to promote cooperation, coordination, shared expertise and common legal approaches,” said Silva while virtually addressing the “Countering use of Crypto Currencies to Finance Terrorism” event on Thursday.

“Due to the transnational and connected nature of terrorists and criminal activists in our region, prevention, cooperation and mutual assistance in controlled measures at international borders are essential,” he added.

The General also said that there are avenues for collaboration by establishing information exchange at customs, imposing immigration barriers and commonly agreeing on the regulation of transporting and stockpiling of weapons and drugs, dangerous goods or potential warlike equipment.

Emphasising that mutual assistance can be enhanced by extending measures for collecting evidence of suspects, exchange of wanted personnel and etc, Silva said that enhancing the capacities of regional countries to handle terrorism and criminals would depend extensively on the training of law enforcement agencies.

“Apart from training for military personnel, of a particular country, it is also essential to carry out joint training for various armed forces of the South Asian region. Conducting counter-terrorism operations at a regional scale would also require regional funding. It is understood that funding counter-terrorism campaigns in recent times has become quite expensive due to the sophistication of insurgence,” Silva added.

The General also said that “this is where we need cooperation as very experience armies, who have long been engaging in counter-terrorism operations, we have specialities, therefore we can share each other’s specialities to counter each other’s imitations.”

“Law enforcement’s institutional reforms based on common and agreed policies and principles in the regional countries feel enhanced the compatibility between the countries in fighting transnational crimes and terrorism,” he added. (ANI)

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COVID-19 on the rise again; 800+ new cases a second day running



(Economynext) New COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in Sri Lanka, with health authorities detecting over 800 new infections on Thursday (20) for a second consecutive day.

With the 827 new cases, total cases in the country have gone up to 599,363, official data showed.

Around 15,279 patients are currently receiving treatment in hospital or at home.

With 12 deaths reported in the last 24 hour period, the island nation’s COVID-19 death toll has reached 15,243.

Health authorities warned that the sector could face challenges managing new patients if daily cases continue to surge.

Officials are also concerned about an apparent hesitance for the booster dose of the vaccine that was largely absent in the initial rollout.

“We have provided the opportunity to get the booster countrywide. But because the fatality rate is now low people may think taking it is no longer necessary,” State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production Channa Jayasumana said speaking to journalists on Friday (21).

“Sri Lanka will go back to the previous state with people not taking the booster dose,” he warned.

The booster rate is very low compared to Sri Lanka’s otherwise impressive vaccination numbers, said Jayasumana.

“Only 4.8 million have taken the booster so far, and only 26,796 came forward yesterday to get it.

“With the increase of patients, even though the fatality rate is low, it can be overwhelming for the health sector if patient numbers in hospital wards and ICUs go up.”

Sri Lanka has so far vaccinated 16.3 with the first dose while 13.8 have received both doses.

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