U.S. Embassy, Suva Deputy Chief of Mission Antone Greubel travelled to Nadi International Airport on Monday, August 24 to meet a U.S. government-supported flight carrying critical supplies to help Pacific Island countries fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The flight also carries ten brand-new, state-of-the-art ventilators donated by the U.S. government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to Kiribati, as part of President Trump’s commitment to provide ventilators to countries in need.
U.S. Ambassador Cella said of the event “USAID assistance in the Pacific is supporting partner countries in the region to prevent the spread and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. This delivery to Kiribati affirms and extends the United States’ strong, longstanding commitment to supporting Kiribati the Pacific Island nations. The ventilators will help build up the health infrastructure of Kiribati, and have them in a heightened state of preparedness should the plague hit their tranquil and beautiful shores, and the ventilators certainly offer a vital tool for other patients needing respirator intervention.”
The delivery of critical supplies is part of the U.S. government’s $5 million support to the World Food Program’s (WFP) logistics operation in the Pacific to support response efforts to COVID-19 and other humanitarian crises throughout this vast region of island nations.
With this humanitarian assistance funding, USAID is supporting WFP to airlift critically-needed medical supplies and relief items to areas where commercial flights are limited or unavailable; monitor regional supply chains and coordinate local authorities and aid organizations’ movement of critical goods into and throughout the region; and provide telecommunications services and support to ensure life-saving information can be disseminated even in remote areas.
USAID’s partnership with WFP is part of USAID’s $24.2 million investment to support COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts in the Pacific Islands’ most vulnerable communities. Working with its partners on the ground, USAID is supporting local emergency and health authorities’ prevention and response operations, pre-positioning medical and relief supplies, distributing hygiene items, installing handwashing stations and water tanks at strategic points, and raising awareness about COVID-19 and how to stay healthy, including through messaging tailored for persons with disabilities. USAID partners are also training health workers in critical COVID-19 care and providing psychological and social services to protect vulnerable populations at risk of increased gender-based violence and help families cope with increased stress caused by the pandemic.