On 11 February, the European Union in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) launches a new regional programme worth over €40 million to provide critical assistance to ensure local readiness and preparedness for safe and effective vaccination of the six Eastern Partnership countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
This programme will prepare the countries for the effective receipt of vaccines, including those from COVAX and through vaccine sharing mechanisms with EU Member States. The programme includes risk communication and community engagement, support to vaccine supply chain management, vaccination data and safety monitoring, training of health managers and medical staff involved in the vaccination campaign, scheduling of the vaccinations, as well as key logistical support for the delivery and handling of the vaccines and supplies.
“With this new programme that we launch today in partnership with the WHO, the EU shows that it delivers on its commitment to support our Eastern Partners to fight the health crisis,” said European Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, responsible for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations. “Acting together now will also allow us to work rapidly on the region's sustainable socio-economic recovery. Today's programme comes in addition to the €1 billion of EU assistance mobilised so far to address the health pandemic and support the longer term socio-economic recovery of the region,” he added.
The programme is part of the Team Europe initiative, and builds on the joint ongoing European Union and WHO Solidarity for Health Initiative in the Eastern Partnership. This Health Initiative of over €35 million has already provided substantial medical supplies across the region, including over 11 million items of personal protective equipment, 12,000 lab kits, over 1,500 ventilators, oxygen concentrators and pulse oximeters, and over 20,000 PCR testing kits.
Team Europe is among the largest contributors to COVAX, with more than €850 million, including €500 million from the EU budget. This will be a key contribution for COVAX to secure 1.3 billion doses of vaccines for 92 low and middle-income countries by the end of 2021.
To ensure early access to vaccines and building on the experience of the EU’s Vaccine Strategy, the European Commission is ready to set up an EU sharing mechanism to facilitate Member States in sharing some doses secured by the EU, including with Eastern partners.
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