UNDP & WHO Sri Lanka hand over essential medicines to address immediate health sector crisis

Addressing the immediate needs of the ongoing socio-economic crisis, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka has come forward to procure and deliver vital and essential medicines and medical supplies for the country, together with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Sri Lanka with the financial support of the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

The medicines and medical supplies were handed over to the Ministry of Health this morning, in the presence of Hon. Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Health by H.E. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, Resident Coordinator, United Nations in Sri Lanka; Ms. Malin Herwig, Officer-in-Charge, UNDP in Sri Lanka, and Dr. Alaka Singh, Representative, WHO in Sri Lanka with the participation of wider representatives from partner organizations.

Highlighting the role of the UN in contributing towards health sector security, H.E. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, Resident Coordinator, United Nations in Sri Lanka stated, “A number of favourable health indicators over the past years demonstrated that Sri Lanka's health system was one of the most robust in the region. Together, we must ensure that the current crisis does not reverse these impressive results. Therefore, a comprehensive sectoral response is required to address the pressing needs that have arisen in the medical sector. Working in close coordination as outlined in the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP) through WHO-led efforts and capitalising on UNDP's global procurement network, the UN will continue to support and create lasting impacts on lives and livelihoods across the country."

Speaking on the timeliness of the procurement of medical items, Dr. Anver Hamdani, Director Medical Technical Services, Coordinating In Charge/ COVID-19, Ministry of Health commented, “In the current Sri Lankan context, the medical sector has been gravely affected due to the shortages of medicine and other vital items in order to serve the people in need. The Ministry of Health is grateful for the support provided in the procurement of life saving essential and non-essential medical items for the people of Sri Lanka and look forward to the continued collaboration in this effort.”

Sri Lanka’s socio- economic crisis has pushed the health care system, with many vital and essential medicines and medical items in the public and private sectors being are out of stock. Concurrently, the price of drugs have increased by 30 per cent island wide. UNDP and WHO working closely with the Ministry of Health identified gaps in availability of medicines, consumables, devices and equipment across the country, and have accordingly procured these vital and essential medicines and medical items.

Speaking to WHO’s role as the UN’s technical lead on health sector efforts, Dr. Alaka Singh, Representative, WHO Sri Lanka noted, “Essential medicines have been particularly impacted by the current crises, with critical implications for the health system.  Access to affordable and quality health care is crucial social protection, especially in difficult economic times. WHO appreciates donor response to the UN call for resources for medicines and to UNDP for accelerated procurement. WHO is continuing to work with the Ministry of Health to safeguard health in Sri Lanka.”

Commenting on the role of UNDP in bringing together stakeholders and facilitating such processes in times of need, Ms. Malin Herwig, Officer-in-Charge, UNDP in Sri Lanka stated, “At this critical time, UNDP has utilized its global procurement network to quickly get the needed medicines to Sri Lanka, working closely with WHO Sri Lanka, along with all relevant counterparts to respond to the current context of the health sector. The medicines handed over today is one such effort, contributing towards the needs of the people of Sri Lanka.”

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