Sri Lanka proposed to establish a Regional Knowledge Hub in Colombo in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), to facilitate exchange of lessons learnt from COVID 19 and support countries to build back better.
Speaking at the 76th Session of United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 22, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said although still a developing nation, Sri Lanka has been very successful in its vaccination programme.
“We have already fully vaccinated nearly all those above the age of 30. Everyone over the age of 20 will be fully vaccinated by the end of October. We will start vaccinating children over 15 years of age in the near future. The rapid progress of vaccinations was enabled by coordinated efforts between healthcare workers, Armed Forces and Police personnel, Government servants, and elected officials,” he said.
Sri Lanka also benefitted greatly from financial and material support provided by bilateral and multilateral donors to manage the pandemic, he said and thanked those nations and institutions for their generosity. He added that the increased global cooperation visible during this ongoing crisis is greatly encouraging.
The President stressed that economic impact of the pandemic has been especially severe on developing countries. This has placed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals at considerable risk. “It is vital that more initiatives including development financing and debt relief be adopted through international mechanisms to support developing nations and help them emerge from this uncertain situation.”
As devastating as the consequences of the pandemic have been to humanity, the world faces the even greater challenge of climate change in the decades to come, President Rajapaksa said. As a climate-vulnerable country, Sri Lanka is deeply aware of the dangers of climate change.
The President said Sri Lanka’s philosophical heritage, deeply rooted in the Buddha’s teachings, also emphasises the vitality of preserving environmental integrity.