The United States—through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)—announced a $1.5 million grant to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to support the national COVID-19 response in Timor-Leste.
The funding will support the continuation of essential maternal, newborn and child health services across the country, expand the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for eligible populations, improve infection prevention and control at a number of community health centers, and promote COVID-19 prevention behavior.
The funding agreement was announced by the U.S. Chargé d’affaires Tom Daley and UNICEF Country Representative Bilal Durrani at a ceremony at the Ministry of Health Office in the presence of the Minister of Health Dra. Odete Maria Freitas Belo.
U.S. Chargé d’affaires Tom Daley, said: “The United States is pleased to extend additional COVID-19 support to help Timor-Leste beat back the pandemic. Ending the pandemic and preventing and preparing for future global health security threats requires the engagement of all countries and a collective commitment to working together. Timor-Leste can continue to count on the support of the United States in the fight against COVID-19.”
The $1.5 million would help provide personal protective equipment to 71 community health centers and 13 municipal health authorities to replenish supplies, protect health workers, reduce transmission, and contribute to the continued delivery of quality maternal, newborn and child health services.
The funds will also be used to supply oxygen concentrators to isolation facilities in Dili and to provide critical oxygen therapy for severe COVID-19 cases at the Guido Valadares National Hospital and five regional hospitals.
The assistance from the American people will also help improve water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in 14 community health centers in Baucau, Covalima, Dili, Ermera, and Manatuto municipalities for infection prevention and control and increase awareness of COVID-19 prevention measures and vaccine uptake across Timor-Leste.
With this contribution, the total U.S. assistance to help Timor-Leste fight COVID-19 now stands at over $5.9 million and 100,620 Pfizer vaccines.
Dra. Odete Maria Freitas Belo, Minister of Health, said: “This new allocation by the U.S. Government to UNICEF comes at a crucial time during the COVID-19 response in Timor-Leste when positive cases continue to be reported on a daily basis, as critical supplies continue to be required to treat severe cases of COVID-19 infections and save lives, and when we are about to launch a vaccination campaign for children aged 12 to 17 years. The funding will promote actions that would contribute to blunting the impact of COVID-19 on Timor-Leste, through prevention, treatment and vaccinations for eligible populations.”
The new funding to UNICEF builds on a previous joint USAID-UNICEF initiative that benefitted 480,000 people through improved infection prevention and control and access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in 20 community health centers in five municipalities.
That initiative reached over 650,000 people through door-to-door awareness raising efforts on COVID-19 prevention and provided 15 community health centers with infection prevention and control supplies such as portable hand washing devices and cleaning supplies.
The funding will contribute to UNICEF’s COVID-19 response which has focused on improving access to health services, including essential services for nutrition, routine immunization and healthcare for mothers and children, improving access to distance learning and safer schools, child protection, and social protection.
Bilal Durrani, UNICEF Country Representative, said: “UNICEF has been leading in supporting the Government of Timor-Leste with all aspects of the COVID-19 response from day one, in the development, operationalization and delivery of the National Vaccine Deployment Plan for COVID-19 Vaccination. Our partnership with USAID has helped us reach more than 1.1 million people so far. This funding will help us scale up efforts to reach hundreds of thousands more people with information, improve infection prevention and control, support the treatment of COVID-19 cases, and ensure that children and mothers receive essential life-saving care.”