UK deal enhances COVID-19 response in the Pacific

The United Kingdom signed a billion-dollar deal with the World Health Organisation in Suva today to strengthen Pacific Island countries’ readiness and response to COVID-19.

Represented by the British High Commission in Suva, the UK Government signed the memorandum of understanding with WHO valued at around $FJD1.4billion to support 11 Pacific Island countries in their response to the pandemic including access to the vaccine, when one is developed, and essential medical equipment. 

The aid is of two parts – with $FJD1.39 billion to fund the COVAX vaccines procurement pool and $FJD4.9 million to purchase and deliver medical equipment – benefitting Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

British High Commissioner George Edgar said the deal is part of the UK Government’s covid-19 global community response.

“COVID-19 is a challenge to the whole world….And it is why we’re especially pleased to partner with WHO in supporting the response in the Pacific region,” Edgar said.

Medical equipment to be procured includes ventilators, patient monitoring systems with electrocardiography (ECG) monitors and/or portable X-ray machines.

To date, FSM, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu have had no confirmed cases of COVID-19. Fiji has gone more than 200 days without a community-transmission case whilst the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have had border quarantine cases. 

WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Takeshu Kasai expressed gratitude for the UK’s support: “WHO very much appreciates the generous support of the United Kingdom to help ensure Pacific Island countries are equipped with the medical equipment they need to respond to COVID-19, including complex cases.

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