ECONOMYNEXT – About 800,000 Pfizer Coronavirus vaccines had landed in Sri Lanka to bolster the island’s vaccination efforts which can be used on young children, as part of a US program to donate 1.1 billion vaccines to countries in need.
“Increasing vaccination coverage is a critical step toward ending the pandemic,” U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Alaina Teplitz said in a statement.
“This donation will help Sri Lanka provide safe and effective vaccines, especially to young people with health issues. It represents our continued investment in Sri Lanka’s future and comes at no cost to the Sri Lankan people.”
US had so far given 2.4 million free vaccines to Sri Lanka including 1.5 million moderna vaccines.
US President Joe Biden had pledged to donate 1.1 billion Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines free of change. The US had so far given 160 million Covid-19 vaccines. The US is the largest donor to the COVAX program, the embassy said.
The US had also give 200 ventilators to a series of hospitals, PCR testing machines, test kits, protective clothing and also helped Sri Lanka exporters produce PPE and helped new exporters access US markets in the pandemic.
Some of the assistance is as follows.
Provided urgently needed supplies to the Ministry of Health, including Personal Protective Equipment consisting of 240,000 KN95 masks to protect both patients and Sri Lankan health care personnel, 40,000 protective goggles, and 600,000 pairs of examination gloves. Donated diagnostic tools, including 500,000 rapid diagnostic test kits to directly detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus and 1,200 fingertip pulse oximeters to measure oxygen levels in a patient’s blood to determine whether a higher level of care is needed.
Donated 200 ventilators to 121 Sri Lankan healthcare facilities in order to save lives and enhance the quality of immediate care for people suffering from the most severe symptoms of COVID-19. Provided technical assistance and training to more than 1,400 clinicians to expand the pool of healthcare professionals qualified to use this ventilator model and manage COVID cases.
Partnered with the Ministry of Health in August 2021 to strengthen the oxygen ecosystem in Sri Lanka to meet the demands of the pandemic, procure urgently needed equipment to treat patients in COVID-19 facilities, help establish ultra cold chain storage to facilitate the administration of the Pfizer vaccine, and reduce burnout and mental health issues faced by healthcare workers.
Supported Sri Lanka Red Cross to train 180 youth volunteers to help in the vaccination efforts at vaccination centers in six districts of the Northern Province.
Helped keep frontline workers safe by providing personal protective equipment, thermal scanners, handwashing stations, hygiene kits, disinfection sprayers, N95 masks, and other critical supplies to hundreds of hospitals, government offices, schools, and communities. Provided equipment and training to local businesses to manufacture personal protective equipment.
Helped schools reopen safely by printing and distributing guidelines for reopening and providing handwashing stations, hand sanitizer, and personal protective equipment to schools following the first two waves. Established health rooms, including beds, mattresses, first aid kits, portable screens, and water dispensers, at 120 schools around the country to ensure basic precautionary measures against COVID-19 and enable isolation and related care for students if needed. Disinfected more than 200 government school compounds and preschools in 14 districts and provided power sprayers and thermal scanners benefitting more than 150,000 students and staff.
Established six maternity isolation units for COVID-19 positive pregnant women. Distributed more than 7,000 personal hygiene kits, including sanitary pads, to women in quarantine centers, residential care facilities and other restricted locations without access to health provisions.
Expanded 24-hour hotline capacity to provide psychosocial counselling to callers, including people impacted by an increase in domestic violence due to COVID-19, and link them with emergency services such as food and safe shelters.
Donated a PCR test machine to the University of Jaffna to increase its testing capacity from 60 to 180 tests per day. Provided a mobile testing lab to the Regional Health Service Directorate in Monaragala to test up to 100 people daily. Handed over a U.S.-funded COVID-19 test kit, including a RT-PCR machine, supplies to conduct 2,000 tests, and personal protective equipment to the University of Colombo.
Supported data collection and analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on households, health, education, and nutrition to inform response activities and sector strategies to mitigate the impact of the crisis on children and their families. Conducted surveys on trade and labor market impacts of COVID-19 on exporters. Provided capacity building training as part of the State Department’s private sector engagement with the apparel industry and Sri Lanka’s Export Development Board to aid new exporters in accessing the U.S. market.
Strengthened Sri Lanka’s readiness to respond to public health emergencies by providing essential equipment, including 71,000 masks, 24,000 nitrile gloves, 600 isolation gowns with hoods, 60 infrared thermometers, 50 portable oxygen concentrators plus expendable equipment to support their operation such as disinfectants and safety goggles. The U.S. Department of Defense funded these donations and procured items locally in keeping with U.S. efforts to support Sri Lanka’s local businesses as they recover from COVID-19’s economic impact.