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The First Physical Meeting among Key Partners held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 18th October 2021

A face to face meeting was held among the University of Huddersfield, University of Colombo, University of Moratuwa and Ministry of Health teams on 18th October 2021 at the Executive Lounge, 7th Floor, Cinnamon Lakeside, Colombo. The objective of the meeting was to discuss the key project outputs achieved thus far by the key partners and to establish consensus regarding the way forward of the remaining project activities.

The meeting was physically attended by Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga of the Global Disaster Resilience Centre, University of Huddersfield; Professor Nishara Fernando, Ms. Naduni Jayasinghe and Ms. Nilushi Dewapura from the Social Policy Analysis and Research Centre (SPARC) at the University of Colombo and Dr. Chandana Siriwardarana and Mr. Ravindu Jayasekara from the Department of Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa. Further, Dr. Hemantha Herath, Dr. Udara Ariyasinghe, Dr. Prasad Ranaweera, Dr. Lahiru Kodithuwakku, Dr. Shyamali Rathnayake and Dr. Chintha Rupasinghe from the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka were physically present at the event. In addition, Professor Richard Haigh and Mr. Thushara Kamalrathne from University of Huddersfield joined the meeting virtually via zoom.

The meeting commenced with a comprehensive outline of the project’s research questions and the corresponding work packages provided by Professor Dilanthi Amaratunga who chaired the meeting. Following this, Mr. Thushara Kamalrathne provided a detailed description of the initial draft of the conceptual framework on the key actors and processes involved in COVID-19 and other pandemic warning and dissemination processes. It was decided that the framework be subject to validation by the Ministry of Health team in due course. Subsequently, Professor Richard Haigh commented on the master questionnaire developed by University of Colombo amalgamating the data collection questions developed under work packages 01, 02 and 03. This was followed by a presentation of initial findings by Dr. Chandana Siriwardana in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on the response capabilities for other hazards with emphasis on aspects such as resources, risk communication, non-pharmaceutical interventions and epidemiological analysis. Further, the questionnaire, which was developed jointly by University of Huddersfield, University of Moratuwa and Ministry of Health teams for the purpose of administering the community survey to examine COVID-19 vaccination procedures from a risk communication perspective, was presented during the meeting for inputs of all key partners. Additionally, the attendees discussed the way forward of activities pertaining to work package 04 of the project. Resulting from this discussion, a decision was made to organize a round table discussion in Sri Lanka around January 2022 aimed at 1) facilitating a consultative process on the revision of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and contingency plans to incorporate containment measures for COVID 19, such as physical distancing and provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and 2) providing recommendations in strengthening healthcare facility capacity for emergency response including the development of communication material on COVID-19 and general preventive measures for the general public, training modules, slide sets and videos for training of health workers and other field level social workers.