NATIONAL, DILI, HEALTH

US hands over 100.620 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to MoH

US hands over 100.620 doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to MoH

DILI, 18 october 2021 (TATOLI) – Today, Timor-Leste received a total of 100,620 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines donated by the United States.

The Pfizer BioNTech vaccines will be used to vaccinate children between 12 and below 18 years, in line with a decision for rolling out vaccinations for children in this age group by the Government of Timor-Leste.

The batch of Pfizer OVID-19 vaccines was officially handed over by Tom Daley, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the U.S. Embassy in Timor-Leste, and UNICEF Country Representative, Bilal Durrani, to the Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Odete Maria Frietas Belo, at a ceremony held at the SAMES Central Store in Dili

“On behalf of the American people, it is my pleasure to welcome the arrival of 100,620 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, a contribution from the United States to the Timorese people. Today’s contribution marks the first opportunity for children 12 and above to be vaccinated safely and effectively against COVID-19. These vaccines will protect nearly 48,000 children in Timor-Leste against the worst effects of COVID-19. Quite simply, these vaccines will help save lives,” said Daley

“Building on the ongoing vaccination campaign, this delivery offers hope for parents, children, and citizens alike that Timor-Leste might soon move closer towards a resumed sense of normalcy.

“The United States is sharing these vaccines – here in Timor-Leste and around the world – because it is the right thing to do to end this pandemic and will make us all safer.”

Tom Daley said since the pandemic began, the United States has worked side-by-side with our Timorese government and civil society partners to provide more than $5.9 million in critical assistance to fight COVID-19.

“Through this support, we are working with our Timorese partners to encourage vaccination in rural areas.  We are also installing a water sanitation site in Batugade, building an isolation facility in Baucau, and constructing a mobile intensive care unit in Dili,” he said.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Minster Belo said the 100.621 batch is critical for the government to protect its citizens from serious infections and death, caused by Covid-19.

“This donation by the Government of the United States of America is critical in our push to vaccinate children between the ages of 12 and below 18 and protect them from the most severe impact of COVID-19. It would bolster the Government of Timor-Leste’s efforts to ensure as many people in the country are vaccinated against COVID-19 and reduce the impact of the disease on people and our health system,” said Belo.

Present at the event were World Health Organization Representative, Dr. Arvind Mathur, The UNICEF Representative in Timor-Leste, Bilal Aurang Zeb Durrani, and the officials from the Ministry of Health.

COVAX partners have been supporting governments and partners around the world to prepare for and implement COVID-19 vaccination campaigns. In Timor-Leste, UNICEF and WHO are supporting the Government of Timor-Leste to implement the national vaccine deployment plan.

Mathur said WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) has concluded that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is suitable for use by people aged 12 and above who are high-risk may be offered this vaccine alongside other high priority groups.

“Following H.E PM’s advice and per discussion with H.E Minister of Health to facilitate COVID-19 vaccine for Adolescent and Young People; I am delighted that our sustained advocacy through WHO Regional Director and Director General for preferential allocation of Pfizer Vaccine to Timor-Leste materialized with COVAX allocation of Pfizer Vaccine in Round on july 5, 2021,” said Mathur.

He said through working closely with Ministry of Health as WHO’s trusted technical partner: “we ensured complete readiness for the rollout of Pfizer vaccines which included facilitating import license with acceptance of Pfizer as WHO EUL vaccine, signing of side letters and indemnity agreement with Pfizer, and ensuring National Deployment Plan, Training and Advocacy Plans” are in place.”

“I am delighted to apprise Excellency that as of today, WHO and MOH, and UNICEF together with INS have completed “Training of Trainers” and rolled out training of Health workers and started the orientation sessions for teachers and parents for Dili and Liquica (soon to be conducted) to keep them fully ready for early rollout of Pfizer. (advocacy session will be conducted by MOH, Ministry of Education, District Health Services, Municipality Education Inspectors office, WHO, UNICEF and INS),” said Mathur.

In addition, UNICEF Representative in Timor-Leste, Bilal Aurang Zeb Durrani, expressed his appreciation for the excellent coordination of the government and other relevant entities to transport the Pfizer vaccines to TL.

“We applaud the excellent coordination of her excellency, Armanda Berta dos Santos, Vice Prime Minister, and the pure dedication and hard work of her excellency, Dr. Maria Freitas Belo, the Minister of Health,” said Durrani.

“Today, we mark yet another milestone in the history of this country. When the idea of bringing Pfizer vaccines was floated a few months ago, it was said that it is impossible for a country like Timor-Leste to have the capacity to store and transport the Pfizer vaccines on such low temperatures of minus 86 degree Celsius.”

“On behalf of my UNICE team, I feel very proud to share that in record time, we not only delivered the ultra-cold temperature freezers and accessories while ensuring that they are suitable for the country but also supported their installation at SAMES, providing technical guidance on the temperature monitoring as well as training on the operation and maintenance of the system. This is the first time the country has the capacity to store vaccines at ultra-low temperatures. UNICEF will also support the Ministry of Health to strengthen the ultra-cold chain capacity at the regional levels.”

Durrani said UNICEF will continue supporting the children in Timor-Leste to get through this difficult time.

He said the challenges brought on by the pandemic have affected many aspects of children’s lives, from mental health to learning loss because of the prolonged closure of schools.

“I re-affirm UNICEF’s commitment to do everything we can to help address these challenges. We will never stop continuing to support initiatives that benefit you. We will continue to support the improvement of access to health services, prevention of malnutrition, improving access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, and advocating for policies that protect you,” Durrani stressed.

The COVAX Facility and provision of vaccines are supported by generous funding from the Governments of Australia, Bhutan, Canada, Colombia, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Team Europe, and the United Kingdom, the United States of America and several other donors and institutions.

Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Nelia Borges Rosario

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