$43.2m response package for Pacific COVID-19 efforts

Medical staff working at the FEMAT Field hospital in Nadovu Lautoka. Picture: REINAL CHAND

UNICEF and the government of Japan recently announced a new $US20.8 million ($F43.2 million) partnership to support Pacific Island governments with their COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts.

The partnership covers support to the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Japanese ambassador Kawakami Fumihiro said his government was aware of how hard Pacific Island governments were working to protect the population from COVID-19.

“We have supported Pacific Islands governments through a bilateral grant for medical equipment procurement ($US37 million) ($F79.9 million), as well as supported this region through various international organisations, which includes the contribution to COVAX Facility ($US1 billion) ($F2 billion), support for the procurement of cold chain equipment through UNICEF ($US9 million) ($F18.7 million),” said Mr Fumihiro.

“In addition to that, we have decided to support the region through UNICEF in this global fight.”

The partnership will support the enhancement of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in healthcare facilities through better access, improved infection prevention training and distribution of essential supplies including environmental cleaning and basic non-medical personal protective equipment.

Mr Fumihiro said the project would boost ongoing efforts to strengthen effective COVID-19 vaccination coverage as well as routine immunisation.

“Health workers will be supported through essential trainings to deliver COVID-19 vaccines and maintain cold chain equipment and in-country distribution of vaccines.”

UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett said they would continue to work with the Pacific Island governments, and other partners, to ensure health systems are well-equipped to respond appropriately to the needs of communities, including children, during this challenging time.

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