A planeload of medical equipment and supplies touched down in Apia on 2 May 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 Programme (WFP) through its Pacific Humanitarian Air Service, with funding support from the European Union (EU).
“They say that it is in times of crisis that your true friends are revealed, and WHO, WFP and the EU have shown themselves to be true friends indeed to Samoa – not just in this latest delivery of supplies, but in their ongoing tremendous support for our COVID-19 preparedness and response,” said Minister of Health, the Honourable Valasi Luapitofanua To’ogamaga Tafito Selesele. “This equipment and medical supplies will be used by Samoan health workers around the country as they continue to test and treat patients and 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 17 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 percent of adults having received at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the death rate has been low.
The 15-tonne delivery consists of 280,000 surgical masks, 248,300 gloves, 72,000 gowns, 30,000 N95 masks, 10,300 face shields, 3000 pulse oximeters and 50 oxygen concentrators for Samoa from WHO’s regional stockpile. Further items including oxygen concentrators and pulse oximeters also arrived on the plane to be sent by boat to neighbouring 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. Thankfully, we spoke with our colleagues at WFP and, with support from the EU, they made this flight possible,” said WHO Representative to Samoa, Dr Kim Eva Dickson.
“As COVID-19 begins to spread in Samoa, it is absolutely critical to bring these life-saving supplies to the frontlines of the crisis,” said Alpha Bah, Director of WFP’s Pacific Multi-Country Office. “WFP is pleased to join forces with WHO in support of the Ministry of Health’s efforts in containing the spread of the virus. We thank the EU for its ongoing support to the Pacific Humanitarian Air Service. Generous funding has enabled WFP and our partners to send flights to 15 Pacific countries so far.”
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 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.
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. It 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 37 flights, transporting a total of 317 tonnes of critical medical cargo across the Pacific region.