Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicines Rajitha Senaratne, held a discussion with Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), on the sidelines of the 68th Session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. The Minister along with Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, briefed the Director General on the current developments in the country as well as on the new health related legislations. Dr. Chan conveyed her congratulations to President Maithripala Sirisena, as a long serving former Health Minister, on the elevation to the highest office.
The Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland, 17 May 2015. Minister Senaratne addressing the Commonwealth made the announcement that Sri Lanka would be hosting the 24th Triennial Meeting of the Commonwealth Medical Association from 14 to 16 October 2016 in Colombo. He further invited the ministerial colleagues to attend the conference.
The Minister addressed the 8th Ministerial Meeting of the Non – Aligned Movement Ministers of Health, held under the theme “Building Resilient Health Systems” on 19th May 2015, in Geneva. During his intervention, the Minister highlighted the achievements of Sri Lanka’s health system, including the universal health coverage in relation to Maternal & Child Health and communicable diseases, as well as its track in achieving nearly all the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015. While highlighting the resilience of the health system in Sri Lanka, which withstood the Tsunami and the 30 year old conflict, Minister highlighted the Government’s commitment to further strengthening its resilience, and to increase the budgetary allocation for health from 1.8% to 3% of the GDP.
Minister Senaratne also held discussions with Dr Poonam Singh, the Regional Director of South East Asian Region (SEAR) of WHO. Many health relates issues pertaining to Sri Lanka as well as to the region were addressed during this meeting. The need to document Sri Lanka’s success stories to be known and learned by the world was emphasized by Dr Singh.
Minister Senaratne held discussions with Ambassador Laura Thompson, Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on the issues of migration and health, on 21st May 2015. The purpose of the bilateral meeting was to strengthen the collaboration between the Ministry and the IOM and to exchange views on the directions to be taken. IOM has supported the Ministry of Health both financially and technically in establishing the migration secretariat in the planning unit, assistance to conduct research prior to drafting policy, facilitating the participation at regional and global forums to discuss migration health issues. Technical assistance to compile the policy document and assistance to the policy launch were also mentioned. Need of an inbound Health assessment for Resident Visa Applicants to Sri Lanka to strengthen TB control, Malaria and HIV control activities were further discussed. The need for modalities to be worked through a multisectoral consensus were discussed. Following an in depth study on the matter, a MOU will be considered with IOM to establish the Health assessment for Resident visa applicants.
The representatives of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (Gavi) Ms. Fawzia Rasheed, Head of Champion Engagement, Advocacy and Public Policy and Dr Andrew Thomson, Senior Country Manager, Asia Pacific Region Country Programme also paid a courtesy call on Minister Senaratne, on 20th May 2015, on the sidelines of the 68th Session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. Gavi has been an important partner in Sri Lanka’s successful immunization process. As Sri Lanka graduates in its partnership to 100%financing of all vaccines later this year, the discussion was focused on other areas of collaboration with Gavi, including the Gavi secured price of Human Papilloma Virus vaccine , and strengthening of health systems.
Minister Senaratne also met the representatives of the Global Fund. Global Fund assistance to TB, Malaria and STD and Aids to Sri Lanka was discussed at this meeting. The way forward for Sri Lanka was analysed in depth.
During the two week meeting, the Sri Lankan delegation actively participated in the development of many resolutions as well as made numerous interventions at the 68th World Health Assembly emphasizing on the Sri Lanka’s success stories in health care.
In addition to the Hon Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicines, the Sri Lanka delegation comprised of Dr. D.M.R.B. Dissanayake, Secretary / Health, H.E. Ravinatha Aryasinha, Ambassador / Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Dr. P.G. Mahipala, Director General /Health Services, Dr. Sujatha Senaratne former Additional Secretary of Health, Dr. Jayasundara Bandara /Deputy Director General of Dental Services, Dr Neelamani Rajapaksa Hewageegana /Deputy Director General of Health Services Planning ,Dr S.D. Subasingha, Advisor to Hon. Minister, Dr Palitha Abeykoon Chairman NATA, Dr T Siriwardana Director NCD, Ministry of Health Sri Lanka, Dr. Susie de Silva, Director, Organazation and Development, Dr Upul Gunasekara, Council member SLMC and officials from the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva; Mrs. Samantha Jayasuriya / Deputy Permanent Representative, Ms. Mafusa Lafir/Second Secretary.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka
27 May 2015