Akosita Talei's picture

The European Union (EU), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and the Pacific Community (SPC) have signed an agreement that will strengthen their existing partnership to support health sector responses to COVID-19 across the Pacific.

This follows the new Financing Agreement the EU and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) signed, to repurpose funding to support the Pacific’s response to COVID-19.

Under the EU-SPC-WFP-WHO agreement, the EU will contribute over USD 24 million (the equivalent of EUR 20 million) of the funding repurposed under the EU-PIFS Financing Agreement to support Cook Islands, Kiribati, Fiji, the Republic of Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. This funding includes WHO’s contribution of over half a million USD (equivalent to EUR 448,000) to the implementation of this agreement.

The agreement has five main outcomes including Increased readiness of countries for effective COVID-19 response operations with special attention to those living in vulnerable situations; strengthened ability to test, detect and monitor for COVID-19 presence in partner countries; reduced risk of spread and excess morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 and other health issues; improved collaboration between environment, animal and public health sectors and an efficient logistics and delivery mechanism for COVID-19 response.

These outcomes are aligned with the Phase 2 COVID-19 Pacific Health Sector Support Plan; and the EU’s support fills a gap in the Plan’s budget, which is focused on stopping or delaying the spread of the virus and mitigating the negative health and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19.

The plan is led by WHO’s Division of Pacific Technical Support and implemented by the Joint Incident Management Team (JIMT) which includes SPC and WFP along with other multilateral partners working in and with the Pacific who bring resources together to improve the readiness for and response to COVID-19 across 21 Pacific Island countries and areas.

To date, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu are yet to report a confirmed case of COVID-19. Fiji has gone more than 250 days without reporting a case of COVID-19 in the community. The Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have occasionally reported cases in travelers arriving from overseas, picked up through border quarantine.

Strengthening vital partnerships in the Pacific to support health sector responses to COVID-19