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MoH receives Japan funded walk-in cold rooms & nutrition supplies

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The Ministry of Health has yesterday (24) received walk-in cold rooms and nutrition supplies procured by UNICEF funded by the Government of Japan to continue to improve the health of all children.

The cold chain items handed over today are 13 walk-in cold rooms—huge refrigerators capable of safely holding large stocks of highly temperature-sensitive vaccines. The equipment has been installed in Colombo and at Regional Medical Supply Divisions in Gampaha, Kalutara, Galle, Kandy, Kegalle, Anuradhapura, Ratnapura and Badulla districts.

This latest batch of equipment is part of a total contribution of US$ 3 million for several cold chain equipment, including portable vaccine carriers and temperature monitors that were already provided to the Ministry of Health in 2021. The equipment will boost the immunization system, ensuring proper and safe storage of vaccines and availability where they are needed.

In addition, nutrition supplies were also handed over. The supplies are part of a recent contribution of US$ 500,000 to procure micronutrients urgently needed to care for children, carry out screening and provide the necessary follow-up, including counseling for malnutrition.

Mr. Mizukoshi Hideaki, Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka, said, “It is our honour to provide Walk-in Cold Rooms as part of the “Last One Mile Support” by Japan to ensure equitable access of immunization services for all people in need across the island. We hope this equipment will improve the storage and transportation capacity of various maternal and child health vaccines including COVID-19 and help strengthen Sri Lanka’s healthcare system amid the prevailing economic crisis. The nutritional package will contribute to alleviating the lack of access to stable nutrition that many children are facing due to the rapid price hike and shortages of imported commodities under the economic crisis. We hope that nutrition supplies and high-quality counselling care will provide some relief for children with acute malnutrition.”

“The benefits of investing in immunization are obvious, especially for children. This equipment will help to advance Sri Lanka’s great efforts in routine immunization services, including the ability to respond to other vaccine-preventable emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Christian Skoog, Representative, UNICEF Sri Lanka. “In regard to malnutrition, it is a condition that can be prevented and treated, and the supplies being handed over today are to help our joint efforts to meet the needs of children”, he added

The Government of Japan has made significant contributions to support the joint efforts of UNICEF and the Ministry of Health in addressing both the long- and short-term health needs of children.

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New SL ambassador to China assumes duties

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The Ambassador-designate of Sri Lanka to the People’s Republic of China – Majintha Jayesinghe had assumed duties yesterday (May 20).

The post of the Sri Lankan ambassador to China was vacant for several months after the tenure of Dr. Palitha Kohona ended.

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Heavy showers today as well

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The Department of Meteorology says the Southwest monsoon conditions are gradually establishing over the island and hence, the prevailing showery and windy conditions will continue. 

Cloudy skies can be expected over most parts of the island.

Showers or thundershowers will occur at times in Western, Sabaragamuwa, Central and North-western provinces and in Galle and Matara districts.

Heavy showers above 100mm are likely at some places in Western, Sabaragamuwa and North-western provinces and in Galle, Matara, Kandy and Nuwara-Eliya districts.

Several spells of showers will also occur in the Northern and North-central provinces, it said.

Strong winds of about 40-50 kmph can be expected at times over the island.

General public is kindly requested to take adequate precautions to minimize damages caused by temporary localized strong winds and lightning during thundershowers.

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SL – Indonesia pledge stronger bilateral ties

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In a significant bilateral meeting during the 10th World Water Summit, President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the longstanding relationship between their nations. The discussions, which covered a wide range of regional and international issues, underscored the importance of collaboration in addressing global challenges.

President Wickremesinghe, in his opening remarks, highlighted the historical ties between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, dating back to their joint participation in the 1956 Bandung Conference. He expressed appreciation for President Widodo’s leadership in regional, international, and bilateral matters, noting the importance of such summits in fostering global cooperation.

A major topic of discussion was the critical issue of water management. President Wickremesinghe emphasized the importance of the World Water Summit and expressed Sri Lanka’s willingness to participate in the Global Blended Financial Alliance, an initiative aimed at addressing common financial challenges faced by countries in managing water resources. He commended Indonesia for establishing a Secretariat for the Alliance, recognizing its significance for Sri Lanka.

President Widodo, in his remarks, focused on the economic cooperation between the two countries. He stressed the need to finalize the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by the first quarter of 2025 to enhance economic ties. Additionally, he highlighted Indonesia’s interest in entering the Sri Lankan vaccine market through Indonesian pharmaceutical companies, and called for the lifting of import restrictions on Indonesian palm oil and related products.

The Indonesian President also showcased Indonesia’s advancements in renewable energy, specifically the country’s largest floating solar power project. He emphasized the importance of hydro diplomacy and political leadership in achieving sustainable water management and development goals. Furthermore, he welcomed Sri Lanka’s leadership in the Indian Ocean Rim Association and its aspirations to become a sectoral dialogue partner.

President Wickremesinghe reiterated the importance of completing the PTA by early 2025, noting Sri Lanka’s existing free trade agreements with India, Singapore, and ongoing negotiations with Thailand, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. He emphasized the potential benefits of joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), suggesting that Sri Lanka’s inclusion could encourage other South Asian countries to follow suit. 

He also mentioned the ongoing removal of import restrictions and assured that Sri Lankan health authorities would address the entry of Indonesian pharmaceuticals into the market.

The discussion also touched upon regional security and economic cooperation in the Indian Ocean. President Wickremesinghe supported ASEAN’s Indo-Pacific outlook and stressed the need for closer bilateral and regional cooperation regarding Indian Ocean affairs. He proposed more frequent meetings between heads of government and a specific bilateral agreement with Indonesia to enhance commercial collaboration in the region.

President Widodo thanked Sri Lanka for co-sponsoring the Global Blended Financial Alliance, emphasizing its role in achieving sustainable development goals. He called for continued collaboration between relevant ministries from both countries to support this initiative. Looking ahead, President Widodo mentioned the upcoming presidential transition in Indonesia and expressed hope that the new administration would continue to strengthen ties with Sri Lanka.

In conclusion, President Wickremesinghe expressed his eagerness to work with Indonesia’s new leadership and extended a personal invitation to President Widodo to visit Sri Lanka after his term ends in October. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing bilateral relations and addressing shared global challenges through continued cooperation.

(President’s Media Division)

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