Sri Lanka has 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 the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said although still a developing nation, Sri Lanka has been very successful in its vaccination programme.
The Head of State said nearly all those above the age of 30 have already been fully vaccinated, while everyone over the age of 20 will be fully vaccinated by the end of October.
President Rajapaksa added Sri Lanka will start vaccinating children over 15 years of age in the near future.
The President noted the rapid progress of vaccinations was enabled by coordinated efforts between healthcare workers, Armed Forces and Police personnel, Government servants, and elected officials.
President Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka also benefited greatly from financial and material support provided by bilateral and multilateral donors to manage the pandemic, and thanked those nations and institutions for their generosity.
The Head of State added that the increased global cooperation visible during this ongoing crisis is greatly encouraging.
The President stressed that the economic impact of the pandemic has been especially severe on developing countries, which has placed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals at considerable risk.
President Rajapaksa said 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.
President Rajapaksa said 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.
The President stated as a climate-vulnerable country, Sri Lanka is deeply aware of the dangers of climate change.
President Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka’s philosophical heritage, deeply rooted in the Buddha’s teachings, also emphasises the vitality of preserving environmental integrity.