Personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and procured by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), are being delivered to Solomon Islands to strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The supplies, including masks, thermometers, faceshields, gowns, and testing kits, will help ensure frontline medical workers have the resources to respond to a potential outbreak of COVID-19. The first batch of these supplies has been handed over to the Government of Solomon Islands today, with the remaining to arrive in staggered shipments.

“Frontline healthcare workers play a critical role in preventing the virus from entering the country,” said Leah Gutierrez, Director General of ADB’s Pacific Department. “These urgent medical supplies will help Solomon Islands prepare for the threat of COVID-19, and we acknowledge the support of our partners UNICEF and the Government of Solomon Islands.”

Permanent Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Pauline McNeil, acknowledges the support of both ADB and UNICEF towards COVID-19 efforts in the country.

“These supplies funded by ADB, and provided through UNICEF, will contribute significantly to the current efforts of the country to remain COVID-19 free and enhance safety of our frontline health workers who are continuously being exposed to the risk of COVID-19.”

She further highlighted that the Ministry is also prioritising the prepositioning of adequate supplies of personal protective equipment at the provincial level to ensure that addressing COVID-19 at the provinces are conducted safely with minimal risk.

“Therefore, the supplies provided will greatly assist us in addressing this priority. We are indeed grateful for the support,” said Pauline McNeil.

Most frontline healthcare workers in the Solomon Islands are located in remote healthcare facilities. ADB and UNICEF are working closely with the Government of Solomon Islands to ensure medical supplies reach these healthcare workers so they can protect their communities, particularly children, against the virus.

“These supplies will support frontline healthcare workers to safely provide services to about 700,000 people, including children. We thank ADB for the support provided to enhance the work being done by the hardworking healthcare workers in the country, as well as the Government of Solomon Islands for the partnership to continue to advocate for the valuable services that these healthcare workers provide,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Pacific Representative.

The funding comes from an ADB grant of US$7.9 million to support 13 countries in the Pacific to prepare for, and respond, to COVID-19. The grant complements ADB’s $20 billion package—announced on 13 April—to support developing members cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: MHMS, ADB and UNICEF