By Dilanthi Jayamanne
Senior Adviser to the Health Ministry, Dr. Palitha Abeykoon, is among the six Special Envoys on COVID-19 appointed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide strategic advice and high-level political advocacy and engagement in different parts of the world.
He was a member of the National Advisory Committee on Communicable Diseases, Member of National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) and former Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA). The Special Envoys have been appointed by the WHO Director General (DG-WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who are expected to work in close collaboration with WHO Regional Directors and country offices to coordinate the global response to COVID-19.
The Envoys are expected to intensify the messages of the Director General, disseminate WHO guidance on COVID-19 readiness and response, partake in high-level advocacy and political engagement, provide strategic advice on preparedness, readiness and response to COVID-19 outbreaks, engage with regional bodies and Governments and report regularly to the DG-WHO.