EU and UNDP support the Serbian health sector with emergency vehicles, mobile ventilators and protective suits

Belgrade, 20 November 2020 – The Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, H.E. Ambassador Sem Fabrizi officially handed over a part of the EU donation for the health system of the Republic of Serbia, with the overall value of EUR 900,000. Five medical vehicles, equipped with mobile ventilators and personal protective equipment, were handed over to the director of the Institute for Emergency Medicine of the City of Belgrade dr Goran Čolaković and to the director of the Public Health Institute of Serbia’ Dr. Milan Jovanovic Batut’, dr Verica Jovanović.

"Since the outbreak of the pandemic the EU has worked closely with Serbia to mitigate the health and economic impact of the Covid. After the 7-million-euro EU funded aero bridge to transport 720t of medical assistance procured by Serbia and the 5m EUR donations of essential medical equipment, the EU has hired in July 200 Serbian medical workers to reinforce the health system until the end of the year. Now that we are witnessing a new wave of the Covid-19 pandemic - which is putting under severe stress the health system and its capacities - the EU is bringing Serbia another signal of its support and solidarity in a difficult moment", said Ambassador Fabrizi.

Vehicles and equipment handed over in Belgrade are a part of a wider donation of the European Union which includes 12 ambulance vehicles and mobile ventilators, 2 decontamination vehicles, as well as 75 sets of highly protective equipment that have already been delivered in October to institutes for emergency medicine and public health institutes in Niš, Kragujevac and Novi Sad.

“With these 12 fully equipped ambulances we are making the emergency health services of Serbia more able to respond to the crisis. Earlier this year we honoured the brave Serbian workers who stand on the front line in the battle against Covid 19, with the campaign "Ono su heroji". This donation is also dedicated to them”, emphasized Fabrizi.

The handover was preceded by a meeting between Ambassador Fabrizi and Minister of Health Dr. Lončar, that highlighted the assistance of the European Union provided to Serbia in the area of emergency management and health.

Minister of Health, Zlatibor Lončar, M.D., thanked the EU Ambassador for the donation and underlined the importance of solidarity and cooperation, especially in times of crises such as global COVID 19 pandemics.

“From the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Republic of Serbia has responded in a responsible and decisive manner. For the last couple of months, the entire health system is focused on the care for the COVID-affected citizens. The Government of Serbia is making an immense effort to provide health workers with sufficient quantities of personal protective equipment and supplies. As we see, this virus knows no borders, it is affecting all countries in Europe and the world equally. Therefore, it is extremely important that we respond to these epidemiological challenges together. Today’s event is the best example of good practice and cooperation contributing to the wellbeing of Serbian people and frontline health care professionals “, stated Lončar.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Francine Pickup joined Ambassador Fabrizi and Minister Lončar for the handover ceremony held in the front of the Palace of Serbia. She pointed out that, thanks to the close cooperation with the Ministry of Health, UNDP was able to recognize the needs of health workers on the first line of defence from the epidemic and procure equipment that will raise the quality of services provided to the citizens, as well as the level of the health workers’ personal protection.

‘Each ambulance vehicle is equipped with innovative disinfection system that enables the protection of staff and patients in case of exposure to infection and contamination. Mobile ventilators and highly protective equipment will assist them in prompt response thus saving more lives. Together with the Government and with the EU support, we are contributing to building a more resilient society in Serbia, ready to efficiently respond to all future crisis. Our partnership also supports Serbia on its path to EU membership and in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, with a pledge to leave no one behind’, said Ms. Pickup.

Procurement of vehicles and equipment was organised within the initiative ‘EU for Serbia Resilient to Disasters’ implemented by UNDP in accordance with the priorities of the Government of Serbia, with the aim of supporting national authorities and local communities across the country to effectively respond to challenges caused by natural and man-made disasters, including the current spread of virus COVID-19, and become more resilient to crisis situations in the future.