BY YOHAN PERERA
Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday proposed setting up of a SAARC Antivirus programme for South Asia, a virus research centre and a Centre for Disease Control in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Wickremesinghe made this proposal at a meeting with some youths in Nugegoda yesterday. “We need to think of the future. Various viruses have emerged in the recent past. It began with AIDS.
This was followed by SARS, Ebola. COVID is more dangerous than any of these. It can spread anywhere. How long will it be active? Around 50 million died of Spanish flu one hundred years ago. COVID had not done such damage. What kind of viruses will come within the next six decades? We have to be prepared for this. We have to be prepared for a war against viruses. There are only a handful of virologists in Sri Lanka. It is essential to increase the number of them. Sri Lanka does not have a centre to research viruses. There are a few laboratories for virus research under MRI. Let’s set up a Virus Research centre.
The universities can be involved in it. Make a start now itself. It would also be possible to team up with the National Institute for Virology Research in the University of Pune. There is also the option of getting the support of the WHO. Sri Lanka also needs a Centre for Disease Control. South Asia is the most populated area in the world. I also propose that Sri Lanka should talk to SAARC leaders through Zoom technology and start-up a SAARC anti-virus programme,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said. “I was asked about the country’s security. Securing people’s health is a part of ensuring security. Late Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake initiated the Gal Oya programme and then he had to set up military camps and airfields during the Second World War.
Then he began a programme to safeguard people in the colonies he set up from Malaria. We have managed to safeguard people from Malaria and then from Polio. We have ensured that people are safe from these diseases,” he added. “There is an issue pertaining to people’s health today. This issue is faced by the whole world. An effort is being made to ensure people’s safety from COVID-19.
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