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Over a million Pacific Islanders to continue battle against COVID-19 through new UNICEF – United States Government partnership

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SUVA, FIJI 22 October 2021 – Today, UNICEF and the United States Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announce a new US$1.9 million partnership to support governments around the region, including Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Republic of Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu with their preparedness and response plans for COVID-19.

“Pacific Island countries remain vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks even though COVID-19 vaccination coverage is increasing. The support from the United States will enhance the efforts of Pacific Island governments in ensuring that their populations are protected as they begin to reopen their borders,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “This new fund will enable UNICEF to further support the government partners to boost vaccine uptake among populations to reach higher coverage.”

“Delivering more COVID-19 support is part of ongoing efforts by the U.S. government to empower our good friends and neighbors in the Pacific,” said Acting USAID Mission Director for Philippines, Pacific Islands and Mongolia Sean Callahan. “USAID’s on-going partnership with UNICEF will provide additional critical COVID-19 care to communities in several Pacific Islands countries that will help us overcome this devastating pandemic.”

To date, the U.S. government, through USAID, has provided nearly $44 million to assist Pacific Islands countries, including Fiji, to combat COVID-19 and to protect the health and livelihoods of communities in the region.

UNICEF, through this partnership, will provide technical support to and work closely with the ministries of health, to strengthen immunization campaigns and develop effective public health messaging through several platforms. This includes through community-based networks including religious and traditional leaders as well as using young volunteers to reach the most remote islands with life-saving information and to increase the demand for COVID-19 vaccines.

The funding will also support strengthening water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities, vulnerable households and communities directly impacted by COVID-19.

This new assistance, which builds on USAID and UNICEF’s continuing partnership in the Pacific in supporting COVID response and vaccine technical assistance, aims to further strengthen the COVID-19 immunization programme. The ministries of health will be provided with technical support and supplies including COVID-19 test kits, oxygen concentrators, personal protective equipment, immunization supplies and cold chain equipment, to meet COVID-19 prevention and response needs.

This UNICEF and United States Government partnership plays a key part in supporting the ongoing planning and recovery activities in the Pacific. This partnership will strengthen the capacity of national governments and build the resilience of healthcare systems, families, and communities to cope with COVID-19 and the risks of transmission.

Notes to Editors:

About USAID:

USAID partners with Pacific Island nations to bolster their ability to lead their countries to stable, prosperous futures. We focus on strengthening disaster preparedness and environmental resilience, health, and democratic governance. For more information on USAID’s work in the Pacific Islands, please visit https://www.usaid.gov/pacific-islands

For more information, please contact:

Patrick Bowers, USAID/Acting Senior Development Advisor for Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru and Samoa, pbowers@usaid.gov
Zubnah Khan, UNICEF Pacific, Tel: +679 9988137, zukhan@unicef.org

Media contacts

Zubnah Khan
Communication Officer
UNICEF Pacific
Tel: +679 330 0439 Ext. 175
Tel: 9988137