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UNFPA Sri Lanka and the Government of Japan support the Ministry of Health to strengthen access to sexual and reproductive health services amidst COVID-19

29 March 2021

Colombo, Sri Lanka, 29 March 2021: The United Nations Population Fund in Sri Lanka and the Government of Japan recently handed over a consignment of goods to support the Ministry of Health to strengthen access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. Additionally, the infrastructure provided will further strengthen the service provision capacity at Women and Youth-Friendly health centres.

This support was made possible through ‘PROMISES’ - a USD 1.5 million UNFPA project supported by the Government of Japan designed to improve access to information and services on sexual and reproductive health and gender based violence, aimed at women and young people.

The three-year project primarily focuses on improving women’s access to family planning services in Sri Lanka, enhancing the capacity of Women and Youth-friendly health centres and strengthening services for victims and survivors of gender-based violence.

As such, UNFPA Sri Lanka handed over essential medical and ICT equipment worth over USD 150,000 to the Ministry of Health on 29 March 2021, at the Family Health Bureau in the presence of, Hon. Dr. (Mrs.) Sudarshani Fernandopulle, State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control H.E. Mr Akira Sugiyama, the Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ms Ritsu Nacken, UNFPA Representative and other officials.

Acknowledging this support, Hon. Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, State Minister of Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control stated, "Sri Lanka has made significant progress in the health sector. Yet there continues to be areas where we can do better - particularly in terms of enhancing our delivery of sexual and reproductive health services for women and young people. On behalf of the Ministry of Health, I want to thank UNFPA Sri Lanka and the Government of Japan for the tremendous support and assistance in this area.”

Speaking at the ceremony, H.E. Mr Akira Sugiyama, the Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka stated, “As a long-time development partner, Japan has been supporting the peace and development of Sri Lanka in response to the genuine needs of the Sri Lankan people, including in the areas of gender and women’s empowerment. Sri Lanka and Japan are partner countries under the G7 Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) Initiative, for which Japan has so far extended approximately USD 6 million to Sri Lanka. We hope that the equipment and furniture handed over today will help the health centers better serve women and young people in need, who are key contributors to peace and sustainable development in this country.”

Adding to this, Ms Ritsu Nacken, Representative of UNFPA Sri Lanka stated, “Strengthening the access to and delivery of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services is imperative so that women and girls are not left behind as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Even pre-COVID, access to SRH information and services was tough for many, especially for young people. UNFPA together with the Government of Japan is pleased to support the Ministry of Health in ensuring everyone has access to essential life-saving services."

As Sri Lanka works to respond and recover from COVID-19, these essential items will ensure the continuous availability of SRH services amidst the pandemic and beyond.