U.S. helps Pacific island countries fight COVID-19 (May 6)

The U.S. help for Pacific island nations’ response to COVID-19 includes aid to health centers like this one in Vanuatu, seen in May 2019. (© Laszlo Mates/Shutterstock)
The U.S. help for Pacific island nations’ response to COVID-19 includes aid to health centers like this one in Vanuatu, seen in May 2019. (© Laszlo Mates/Shutterstock)

U.S. helps Pacific island countries fight COVID-19 (May 6)

 

The United States is providing nearly $40 million to help Pacific Island nations prevent and control COVID-19.

“I’m especially proud of the work that we’ve done in the Indo-Pacific region,” Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said April 29 while discussing the U.S. COVID-19 global response.

In the Pacific islands, the U.S. funding will help pay for improvements in lab preparation, infection control, and public health communications.

Over the last 20 years, the United States has invested over $5 billion in assistance for the Pacific islands, with more than $620 million for health in the past decade, according to the State Department.

The funding includes:

  • $27.5 million for the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau, from a variety of federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of the Interior.
  • $1.9 million for Papua New Guinea from the State Department and USAID.
  • $9.8 million for the broader Pacific islands region from the State Department and USAID.

The U.S. funding for the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau also will help these governments improve hospital capacity, expand testing and screening, and acquire medical supplies. Each of these three countries has a special relationship with the United States, established through a Compact of Free Association between each country and the United States, in which the U.S. is responsible for security and defense matters relating to the country.

The U.S. also worked with students at the Majuro Deaf Education Center in the Marshall Islands to create an educational video demonstrating proper hand-washing techniques in sign language.

The video, made in partnership with USAID, the International Organization for Migration and the local government, is part of a broader public-health communication and community engagement plan to help the islands prepare for and control COVID-19.

“As Pacific neighbors, allies and partners, the U.S. government is operating transparently and remains committed to stand by the people of the Pacific region in these challenging times,” said Joseph Cella, the U.S. ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu.