US$9 million was contributed by the Government of Japan to UNICEF to strengthen the vaccine cold chain and capacity to address the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic in 10 Pacific Islands, including Tonga.
HE Mr. Fumihiro Kawakami, Japanese Ambassador to Fiji said in recognition of the importance of ensuring equitable access and swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the Government of Japan has decided to assist ten Pacific island countries.
This assistance will provide the recipient countries with medical and cold chain equipment such as cold-storage facilities and transportation, as part of the ‘Last One Mile Support’ to ensure vaccination in each country through UNICEF, he said.
“I believe that this assistance will contribute to the safe delivery of vaccines in the recipient countries. It will further complement the efforts of the COVAX facility, to which Japan has announced its financial contribution of 200 million US dollars.”
UNICEF has been working with Pacific governments to help prevent the spread of the virus among communities, as well as supporting the vital procurement of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility.
These funds will strengthen the capacity of these countries’ governments to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, in the context of achieving universal health coverage, through the procurement of cold chain equipment and the strengthening of the institutional capacity to manage the equipment during the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines over a 12-month period throughout 2021–22.
UNICEF Pacific Representative, Sheldon Yett thanked the Government of Japan for its continued and strengthened partnership with UNICEF to support the Pacific region through the global pandemic.
“We will continue to work with the host governments, WHO and other partners, to ensure their health system is well prepared to respond appropriately to the on-going threat of this pandemic.”
This funding is part of the broader Japanese Emergency Grant Aid of approximately US$41 million to 25 countries in the Southeast and Southwest Asia and the Pacific.
Meanwhile, the Pacific Islands to benefit from this includes Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.