Tuesday 3rd May 2022, Apia Samoa. A planeload of medical equipment and supplies touched down in Apia on Monday to bolster Samoa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goods were provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Ministry of Health of Samoa and transported by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) through its Pacific Humanitarian Air Service (PHAS) with funding support from the European Union (EU).
A handover ceremony was held this morning at the Pharmaceutical Warehouse building on Centipede Alley in Motootua attended by Samoa’s Minister of Health, the Honourable Valasi Luapitofanua To’ogamaga Tafito Selesele; in attendance to receive the assistance from the WHO representative, Dr. Kim Eva Dickson.
The delievery covered 95 cubic meters of the plane’s cargo hold, and included 280,000 surgical masks – 248,300 gloves – 72,000 gowns – 30,000 N95 masks – 10,300 face shields – 6,000 Covid-19 testing cartridges – 3,000 pulse oximeters and 50 oxygen concentrators for Samoa from WHO’s regional stockpile.
The supplies included oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters and testing supplies – to be sent by boat to neighboring Tokelau.
“We knew we needed to get this equipment and supplies into health workers’ hands here in Samoa, but getting it here was going to be a challenge due to limited flights and inflated shipping costs,” said Dr. Kim Eva Dickson.
“Thankfully, we spoke with our colleagues at WFP and, with support from the EU, they made this flight possible.”
Samoa’s Minister of Health delivered heartfelt words of appreciation to WHO for the generous supplies, and acknowledged WFP and the EU for their assistance in getting the shipment to Samoa.
“They say that it is in times of crisis that your true friends are revealed, and today the World Health Organisation, the World Food Program and the European Union have each shown themselves to be true friends indeed to Samoa,” said Hon Valasi.
“It’s not just this latest delivery of supplies, but in your ongoing tremendous support for our Covid-19 preparedness and response,” said Samoa’s Minister of Health.
Honourable Valasi said all of this equipment and medical supplies will be used by healthcare workers around the country as they continue to test and treat patients..
“This crucial equipment and supplies will help them all to remain safe themselves, as they save lives..
“Faafetai tele lava for your kind assistance.”
Samoa detected its first community transmission of Covid-19 on the 17th of March 2022 after two years of being Covid-free.
To date, the country has reported a total of 9,592 cases, however, with more than 92% of eligible adults having received at least two doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
“As COVID-19 begins to spread in Samoa, it is crucial now more than ever to support the Government of Samoa to help contain the outbreak and protect healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of the crisis,” said Alpha Bah, Director of WFP’s Pacific Multi-Country Office.
World Food Programme
WFP’s Pacific Director says they are pleased to join forces with WHO and be able to support the Samoa Ministry of Health with the critical delivery of these life-saving equipment.
The European Union
The EU provides extensive support to WHO’s Covid-19 response in the Pacific, both financially and as a partner in the Pacific Covid-19 Joint Incident Management Team.The EU also provides funding to WFP for the Pacific Humanitarian Air Service.
“The coronavirus pandemic is a global challenge which requires a global response. in the Pacific, the EU redirected EUR 20 million to WHO, WFP and the Pacific Community to help countries fight COVID-19 outbreaks on their shores. These resources continue to strengthen medical systems to respond to COVID-19. I am happy that the EU can now contribute to the assistance provided to Samoa, with the hope that the situation will improve soon,” said the Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific and to Samoa, H.E. Sujiro Seam.
PHAS – Pacific Humanitarian Air Service
WFP’s Pacific Humanitarian Air Service is a part of the greater Pacific Humanitarian Team’s COVID-19 Response Plan – a comprehensive regional response plan that seeks to consolidate efforts by UN agencies, governments, regional and multilateral organizations, NGOs, donors and development partners.
PHAS operates under the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway established by the Pacific Islands Forum and its member countries. With generous funding from the European Union, the Government of Australia and USAID, WFP has so far run 36 flights, transporting a total of 15 metric tonnes of critical medical cargo.