UNICEF announces life-saving support to Sri Lanka’s response to COVID-19

UNICEF today announced that the UK is providing lifesaving medical equipment for high-risk pregnant mothers and infants identified with COVID-19 to 11 public maternal hospitals across the island.

This is in response to a request from the Ministry of Health Sri Lanka through UNICEF, following the rapid escalation of COVID cases since mid-April 2021.

The initiative is funded by the UK’s International Programme Fund and led by UNICEF. It will support the health care system by adding over 100 pieces of medical equipment, including High Dependency Unit beds, multipara monitors, syringe pumps, adult suckers and infusion pumps.

While receiving the equipment today at the Ministry, the Minister of Health, Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella remarked that, “The equipment so generously donated could not have arrived at a better time to boost the efforts of Sri Lanka in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. He further recognized the UK’s long-standing partnership with Sri Lanka as a trusted ally with this latest contribution demonstrating the concerted efforts required in combating the COVID-19 pandemic”

With the emergence of new variants of COVID-19 from mid-April 2021, pregnant mothers and children have become a high-risk group with increased maternal deaths reported in the third wave of COVID-19.

British High Commissioner, Sarah Hulton said, “The UK is proud to support Sri Lanka’s fight against COVID 19. This contribution is not only providing urgently needed life serving medical equipment, but also strengthening Sri Lanka’s child and maternal health system.”

Essential medical equipment like this, not only helps strengthen the health system’s capacity to respond to COVID-19 at present, but also contributes to health care service delivery in the long term. For instance, setting up High Dependency Units in the maternity wards in specialist hospitals had been identified as a critical need for many years pre-COVID by the Ministry of Health and will remain in the maternity wards even in a post-COVID context as well, to care for hight risk pregnant mothers, contributing to the reduction of maternal and new-born deaths.

“COVID-19 has again showed that the most vulnerable, including pregnant women and young children are the most affected by its consequences. This equipment procured with the support of the UK are not only helping to address the immediate needs of those infected with the virus but generally improve the quality of healthcare for the long term. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF has supported the efforts of the government of Sri Lanka to ensure that critical healthcare is provided, especially to the most vulnerable”, said UNICEF Representative, Christian Skoog. (Colombo Gazette)

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