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US donates 820,000 additional vaccines to Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health

The United States has donated 820,000 additional Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccines to Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health. The US has now donated a total of 3.4 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, and USAID has provided $17.9 million to Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health. 

"The United States supports Sri Lanka's ongoing efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible," said U.S. Chargé d'Affaires Martin Kelly.  

"Widespread vaccination is vital to ending the pandemic, preventing the emergence of new variants, and rebuilding livelihoods. With the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization, we are doing all that we can to build a world that is safer and more secure against the threat of infectious disease," Kelly added.

A few days ago, the US Senate approved the nomination of veteran US diplomat Julie Chung to be the next Ambassador to Sri Lanka. Chung has previously stressed the need for the US to encourage "justice, accountability, and reconciliation" and highlighted the importance of engaging with "many voices of the Sri Lankan diaspora in the United States".

Read more here: US Senate confirms Julie Chung as next Ambassador to Sri Lanka


The Ministry of Health's 'Military Mentality' 

Currently, Sri Lankan doctors are striking throughout the country, citing their problems with the Ministry of Health's "military mentality" and the Health Secretary's "adamant and egoistic attitude." Sri Lanka's Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA), stated that the Ministry of Health has violated National Salary Policy and published post-internship lists without the legally required approval of the transfer board.

Read more here: Sri Lankan Doctors strike island-wide against Ministry of Health's ‘Military Mentality'

Further, in September, several health experts resigned due to issues with Sri Lanka's Ministry of Health. Infectious disease expert and the first healthcare official to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Sri Lanka, Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama, stated, "the vaccination program in Sri Lanka is not being implemented as per the recommendations of the experts."

Many human rights advocates have voiced concern over Sri Lanka's militarized response. In June, Amnesty International released a scathing report that highlighted Sri Lanka's discriminatory COVID-19 response. In their report, they drew attention to the gag order on the health care sector; the prioritization of those with economic or political privilege at the expense of at-risk groups; the abuse of factory workers and prisoners; as well as the lack of a comprehensive plan to vaccinate the whole population.

Read more here

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