The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) began supplying more than 1.6 million urgent medical supplies and 9,450 diagnostic testing kits to support Fiji in the ongoing detection and containment of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The $513,000 worth of medical supplies, cofinanced by ADB and UNICEF and transported by the World Food Programme (WFP), will help to strengthen the country’s COVID-19 response during the ongoing second wave of the pandemic, while supporting the continuation of essential health services. In addition, ADB supplied almost $195,000 worth of testing cartridges and swabs.
Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete, said: “The Government of Fiji and the Ministry of Health and Medical Services thank the ADB and UNICEF for the tremendous support toward the response effort for this second wave of COVID-19 cases. The generous donation is timely and will greatly assist our frontliners and health institutions to safely and effectively deliver the public health response that is needed to identify and interrupt the transmission of the virus in our communities, and to nurse the positive cases, which includes children, back to recovery.”
The medical supplies include medical-grade masks, N95 respirators, gowns, gloves, face shields, biohazard bags, and other essential items. Diagnostic equipment including GeneXpert testing cartridges and swabs will be used to help the government detect cases of COVID-19.
Arriving in staggered shipments beginning today, the medical supplies will help to build the capacity of the local health system and support in managing rising numbers of COVID-19 cases as well as limiting transmission.
ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office Regional Director Masayuki Tachiiri, stated: “Together with UNICEF, we remain committed to support Fiji’s latest fight against COVID-19,” said. “These supplies will ensure frontline health workers can safely conduct their work to stop the spread of the virus. This is an important part of ADB’s support package, which includes financial support for the COVID-19 response budget, liquidity support for Fiji Airways, and various technical assistance.”
Many frontline health care workers in Fiji are based in remote health care facilities. UNICEF is working with the government to ensure the supplies reach these remote health care workers to ensure they are protected.
UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yet, said: “This second wave of COVID in Fiji, with the corresponding spike in community transmission, puts the health of all Fijians at risk. These supplies will enable health care workers to safely provide services to those who need it most, including children. We thank the ADB for the partnership as well as the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services for their leadership in combatting this pandemic.”
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.