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Sunday December 3rd, 2023

Sri Lanka begins vaccination of frontline workers

IDH Director Dr Ananda Wijewickrema receiving the jab today (29)

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka started its COVID-19 vaccination today (29), with frontline workers at Colombo Army Hospital and the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) receiving their first Covieshield jab, the national pandemic task force said.

Sri Lana received 500,000 vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India yesterday, as a donation from the Indian government under its ‘neighbours first’ policy.

The vials were transported to the Ministry of Health’s central vaccine storage by the military before distributing it to eight hospitals in the Western Province to begin vaccination today.

The first jabs were administered at the IDH and at the Army Hospital where three army officers working at quarantine facilities were inoculated. IDH hospital director Dr Ananda Wijewickrama were among the staff that received the jab.

Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay who was present at the vaccination inauguration at the IDH said Sri Lanka can now reopen for the world.

“It is a pandemic. No matter how much advanced technology or advanced science a country has, at this moment the best way to fight this is with international cooperation,” he said.

Dr Wijewickrama said the National Medicine Regulatory Authority (NMRA) was extremely satisfied with the results of vaccine before approving it for use in Sri Lanka.

“We were able to recommend it to use in Sri Lanka without any fear,” he said.

Vaccination of staff at the Colombo National Hospital, the Lady Ridgeway Children’s’ Hospital, the Mulleriyawa Hospital, the Homagama Hospital, the Colombo South Hospital and the Colombo North Hospital also began today.

Issuing a statement, the national COVID19 task force said the vaccination of frontline military personnel will be carried out at 15 military hospitals island-wide starting tomorrow.

“Sri Lanka Army personnel, now playing a prominent role in the practice of quarantining vulnerable categories and healing COVID-19 affected while actively contributing to arrest its transmission would accordingly receive the COVID-19 jab through 15 island-wide military mospitals” the statement said.

“After the first dose was inoculated to Colonel Saveen Semage, Deputy Director, Directorate of Army Preventive Medicine and Mental Health Services, two more frontline Army personnel (Officer and Other Rank) representing the line of command in the organisation received their doses at the Colombo Army Hospital,” it added. (Colombo/Jan29/2021)

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Sri Lanka UGC wants to boost number of IT-related degrees

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s University Grants Commission is of the view to boost the number of Information Technology (IT) related degrees in state universities with an aim to pave the way for a digital economy.

Sri Lanka’shigher education system has been producing more graduates in Arts stream while the degrees in highly demanded IT and other engineering services are being looked at only now.

“We do have a high demand for engineering, science, AI, computer and electronical engineering

studies,” Chairman of University Grants Commission, Sampath Amaratunga, told reporters at aa media briefing on Friday

“However, while avoiding neglecting the humanities, we should develop new IT skills.”

Amaratunga confirmed that a student who studied in any stream could obtain an IT degree, including students who studied in the arts stream.

The UGC data show that out of 18,490 engineering technology stream students who sat for their Advanced Levels (A/L) in 2022, 10634 were eligible for university.

“Even streams like agriculture should be encouraged to use technology,” Amaratunga said. (Colombo/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka leader inaugurates Climate Justice Forum at COP28 in Dubai

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe launched Climate Justice Forum (CJF) at the ongoing 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai in a move to gather support for vulnerable nations hit by climate-change led disasters.

This year’s climate summit held in Dubai’s EXPO2020 features a raft of issues for countries working to find common ground in tackling climate change, including whether to phase out fossil fuels and how to finance the energy transition in developing countries.

Wickremesinghe inaugurated the Climate Justice Forum at COP28 on Saturday and emphasized the critical importance of addressing climate issues with a sense of justice and equity.

The President had been in talks with many nations vulnerable to climate change disasters including African and South American countries to get their support for the CJF.

The move is to compel advanced and developed countries to look into the poor nations hit by the climate changes and help them to get over economic and debt burdens by either investing more in green energy initiatives or writing off debts to ease financial pressure.

Sri Lanka, which is now facing an unprecedented economic crisis, has seen increasing losses and damages, both human lives and physical properties due to climate change-led disasters like floods, drought, and earth slips.

In his speech at the COP28 forum, Wickremesinghe on Friday said the Climate Justice Forum will provide a platform for constructive and proactive engagements. (Dubai/Dec 2/2023)

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Sri Lanka IMF review goes to executive board on December 12

ECONOMYNEXT – The first review of Sri Lanka’s International Monetary Fund program is scheduled to go the lender’s Executive Board for consideration on December 12.

Sri Lanka officials were expecting the review to be completed in December as soon as official creditors gave their assurances.

According to the notice Sri Lanka had missed one performance criterion and has requested modifications.

Sri Lanka has outperformed on a number of quantity targets including inflation. In addition to quantity PCs there was also one non-accumulation of arrears.

There would also be re-phasing of access. The review was originally expected around September with another review based on December data, leading to September and March disbursements.

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