The community-based approach to combatting COVID-19 and reinforcing routine immunisation has received increased support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) with the donation of a mobile vaccination unit, a corresponding vehicle for field vaccination teams, a GenExpert machine, test kits and a range of equipment to address medical waste management on Friday (September 16).
The donation valued at US$540,000 seeks to strengthen the national response to COVID-19.
Ian Stein, PAHO/WHO Representative to Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, and the United States Ambassador to Jamaica, Nick Perry, delivered the COVID-19 response equipment to Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton.
In his address at the handover ceremony, the PAHO/WHO representative highlighted the value of reaching communities with immunisation messages and services that influence decision-making and action.
“The pandemic has reiterated the importance of engaging communities and community leaders to promote immunisation. After two years, COVID-19 remains a public health emergency amidst downward vaccination trends and the resurgence of vaccine-derived polio in the Americas. The community-based approach to immunisation remains a key strategy for promoting human health and we are pleased to partner with USAID to support the Ministry of Health and Wellness in the implementation of this strategy,” said Stein.
“Our work continues to be guided by the PAHO/WHO COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, and the Health Emergency and Disaster Management Framework; we commit to its ongoing implementation through collaboration with our international partners,” he reiterated.
Under the projects funded, USAID seeks to reduce morbidity and mortality from COVID-19, mitigate transmission, and strengthen health systems, including preventing, detecting, and responding to pandemic threats in Jamaica.
“We are committed to supporting the Government of Jamaica in addressing the needs of the nation,” said US Ambassador Nick Perry.
“This critical equipment will improve the ability to detect the virus and reduce the severity of illness from COVID-19, as well as accelerate equitable access to and uptake of effective COVID-19 vaccines,” the senior envoy added.
While accepting the donation, Tufton emphasised the importance of partnerships to finance national public health response plans.
“The COVID-19 Response has shown us that it requires a never-before-seen level of resource mobilisation to finance national public health response plans. This is in order to protect public health and, in particular, the health of those with vulnerabilities. This response can only be successful through partnerships,” stated the health minister.
Tufton also discussed the value of partnerships between Governments and thanked the American people for their continued support for development initiatives in Jamaica since its independence in 1962.
“This handing over shows the success that can be had when Governments partner together. Again, we thank the people and government of the United States for their generous donation.”