SUVA, FIJI (28 August 2020) — Personal protective equipment and other medical supplies financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of Japan, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) were delivered today to Fiji to strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The Health Ministry welcomes this timely donation and we extend our sincere gratitude to the donors and our development partners who have always been a power of strength in difficult times such as this. This donation will greatly assist the frontline health care workers to protect the borders and stop the spread of the infection in the community,” said Fiji's Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete.

The supplies financed by ADB and the Government of Japan include masks, face shields, coveralls, and gowns to improve infection prevention control; as well as biomedical devices, such as thermometers, oxygen concentrators, and electrocardiogram recorders to improve the clinical management of COVID-19 patients. These supplies will also ensure that frontline health care workers are well equipped as well as protected from potential infections and enable the undisrupted delivery of essential services to the communities they serve.

“Health care workers play a vital role in stopping the virus in its tracks, yet at the same time they are most at risk of contracting it,” said the Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Subregional Office in Fiji Masayuki Tachiiri. “We will continue to work with our partners to help protect these workers at the frontline of Fiji’s COVID-19 response.”

The supplies, arriving in staggered shipments, will help build the capacity of the local health system to manage COVID-19 cases as well as limit transmission. A batch of these supplies was handed over to the Government of Fiji today.

“At this juncture, I would commend the Fijian government for its sound leadership in effectively guiding the nation through the challenges of COVID-19. I understand that the Ministry of Health and Medical Services has been working tirelessly at the front line to keep us all safe,” said the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan Omura Masahiro.

Most frontline health care workers in Fiji are in remote health care facilities. The development partners are working closely with the Government of Fiji to ensure that medical supplies reach these health care workers for everyone's safety, including children, in the battle against this global pandemic.

“These supplies will support frontline health care workers to safely provide services to about 890,000 people, including children. We thank ADB and the Government of Japan for the support provided to the hardworking health care workers in the country. We also appreciate the Government of Fiji’s partnership to continue to strengthen the critical services that these health care workers provide,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative Sheldon Yett.

The funding comes from an ADB grant of $7.9 million and a $3 million grant from the Government of Japan to UNICEF to support Pacific island countries in their preparedness and response plans for COVID-19.

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.

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