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Tuesday April 16th, 2024

Sri Lanka may consider vaccine mandate if situation demands it: health minister

ECONOMYNEXT – If the circumstances call for it, Sri Lanka may consider going for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

Speaking to reporters in Kandy on Sunday (26), Rambukwella said if the need arises, the government may discuss a legal framework for such a mandate with the advice of health experts.

“Just as one has a right to one’s own life, there is a problem if one opposes decisions that will prevent someone else being infected. So we might have to take a decision, in the event of [a vaccine mandate] becomnig essential,” he said.

Though Sri Lanka’s vaccine rollout has been largely successful despite delays, authorities have expressed concern over a disturbing reluctance among the country’s youth to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of September 27, only 48 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20-29 age group have received at least one dose of a vaccine, while only 12.7 percent are fully vaccinated.

State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Channa Jayasumana told parliament last week that “fake news” circulated online has led to a vaccine hesitance among this particular demographic.

Among other unsubstantiated claims, these online falsehoods suggest vaccination could lead to sexual dysfunction, reproduction and fertility issues, or the destruction of the immune system, said Jayasumana.

“There has been much research done regarding these vaccines and no study has yet proved these claims,” he said.

The Public Health Inspectors (PHI) Union also said the vaccination of the age group is much slower than anticipated.

One of the reasons, according to a PHI union spokesperson, is that younger people tend to show a preference to the Pfizer-BionTech jab due to a belief that it has the highest efficacy. (Colombo/Sep27/2021)

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IMF urged Sri Lanka to preserve “hard earned gains” after economic crisis: State FinMin

ECONOMYNEXT – The International Monetary Fund has urged Sri Lanka to preserve the hard earned gains after an unprecedented economic crisis under the global lender’s programme, State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe said.

The Sri Lankan delegation led by Shehan Semasinghe met Kenji Okamura, the Deputy Managjng Director of the IMF on the first day of the IMF and  World Bank Spring meeting.

“Mr. Okamura commended the Sri Lankan authorities on strong programme implementation and excellent reform progress. He emphasised the need to preserve the hard earned gains Sri Lanka has experienced since the beginning of the IMF programme and continue strong ownership,” the State Minister said in his X (Twitter) platform.

He said the Sri Lankan delegation including Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe and Secretary to the Treasury Mahinda Siriwardana explained the recent socio-economic developments to Okamura.

He also affirmed the IMF top official on the authorities’ commitment to ensuring continuity and consistency of macroeconomic policies and reforms undertaken under the programme. (Colombo/April 16/2024)

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Sri Lanka State FinMin meets BCIU in US; discusses post-crisis investment prospects 

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s State Finance Minister Shehan Semasinghe met Business Council for International Understanding( BCIU) in Washington on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings late on Monday and discussed investment prospects in the island nation which is gradually recovering from an unprecedented economic crisis.
“Our discussion centered on the potential that Sri Lanka offers for international investors. Explored various sectors, including education, tourism, renewable energy, agriculture and technology, where strategic investments can drive sustainable economic growth and development,” Semasinghe said in his X (Twitter) platform. 
“We reviewed the current macro-economic landscape of Sri Lanka, including recent reforms that have transformed to results. Glad to concluded the forum by marking constructive dialogue and a shared commitment to support the economic development of Sri Lanka.” 
“We thank participants, stakeholders holders and global partners for the significant interest shown in unlocking the full potential of the Sri Lankan economy and fostering greater international understanding and cooperation.” (Colombo/April 16/2024) 
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India allows Sri Lanka to import 10,000MT of onions

ECONOMYNEXT – India has relaxed an export ban allowing 10,000 metric tonnes of onions to be shipped to Sri Lanka, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

“The exemption for Sri Lanka reiterated India’s Neighbourhood First policy, adding to the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festivities here,” the statement said.

Onion prices went up in Sri Lanka after India and Pakistan banned exports.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade has issued a notice allowing National Co-operative Exports Limited to ship 10,000 MT of onions.

The UAE has also been allowed to import 10,000MT of onions on top of 24,400MT already permitted.

A large Indian and South Asian expat community lives in the UAE. (Colombo/Apr15/2024)

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