COLOMBO – A consignment of critically needed emergency supplies to help Sri Lanka contain the upsurge in COVID-19, arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) on Saturday (5). The consignment comprising pulse oximeters, protective goggles, examination gloves, and KN95 masks, donated by the American people on the request of the Government of Sri Lanka was handed over to Secretary, Ministry of Health Dr. S.H. Munasinghe by the Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy, Martin Kelly on Tuesday (8).
A statement from the US Embassy in Colombo quoted Kelly as saying the United States and Sri Lanka have worked closely together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic since its outset, and recognize the serious personal toll of the pandemic. It also quoted him as saying the US was providing the urgently needed supplies to the Ministry of Health, at the request of the Sri Lankan government, to ensure they reach those in need as fast as possible.
The statement noted the shipment of the emergency relief supplies follows the White House announcement on Thursday (3) that the United States will make available nearly seven million vaccine doses for countries in South and Southeast Asia, including Sri Lanka.
Since March 2020, the United States has provided US$6 million, plus an in-kind donation of 200 ventilators, to control the spread of COVID-19, address the urgent health needs of the Sri Lankan people, and ultimately save lives. The assistance, the statement said, has reached millions of people in all 25 districts and nine provinces of Sri Lanka to mobilize critical supplies and expertise to support the Sri Lankan government’s response to the pandemic. The funding is also helping to mitigate the pandemic’s negative economic impacts and help the country recover, it added.
The statement noted that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested over $26 million in the past 20 years to improve the health and well-being of Sri Lankan families and to combat diseases like malaria, avian influenza, and now, COVID-19. “This is one component of the longstanding partnership between the American and Sri Lankan people to support self-reliance and promote economic growth,” it said, adding that USAID’s program in Sri Lanka, totalling more than Rs 350 billion ($2 billion) since 1961, promotes a healthy, educated, and employed population.