The United States Government today announced plans to provide $1.5 million in urgent COVID-19 assistance through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for countries in the Eastern Caribbean region, including Suriname, The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago.
This assistance will be focused on helping countries with vaccine deployment and readiness and includes efforts to address vaccine hesitancy and combat vaccine mis- and dis-information. The additional support will assist with community vaccination campaigns and engagement activities, strengthen the cold chain environment, train healthcare workers, and develop regional and country specific campaigns to increase vaccine uptake.
Activities will be implemented through local, regional, and international organizations such as the local Ministries of Health, local non-governmental organizations, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), UNICEF, and the USAID Country Health Information Systems and Data Use (CHISU) project implemented by JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc.
“Suriname will benefit tremendously from this partnership as we seek to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and help the country recover from this pandemic,” said U.S. Ambassador to Suriname Karen Lynn Williams. “This virus cannot be beat by just one community or one nation. It will take all of us working together, getting vaccinated to safeguard our families, neighbors, and friends.”
USAID Regional Representative for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean Clinton. D. White noted: “The funding will fill key gaps to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine uptake, and strengthen countries’ preparedness for future pandemic threats.”
This additional assistance builds on previous COVID-19 support provided to Caribbean countries. USAID has provided nearly $63 million in COVID-19 assistance to the Caribbean to address the health, humanitarian, and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes more than $7 million specifically for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean region since the beginning of the pandemic.
USAID’s COVID-19 assistance to Suriname allowed the country to expand vaccination sites by 50 percent, procured critical items to assist with vaccinations and care of COVID-19 patients – including privacy screens, personal protective equipment, reservoir bag masks, and oxygen . In addition, 70 percent of the population was reached through communications campaigns in Dutch and English.
Along with the aid provided by USAID, the U.S. has also supported Suriname since the pandemic began through donations of a field hospital and $665,000 worth of equipment, medical supplies, and personal protective equipment (PPE) from U.S. Southern Command in Miami. The U.S. Embassy donated $50,000 worth of PPE during the first year of the pandemic to help reopen schools. And through the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.S. secured almost $400,000 in diagnostic and biosafety equipment to help Suriname detect the virus.
The U.S. has also provided more than 350,000 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Suriname.
“We will continue to be a neighbor, partner, and friend to Suriname,” Ambassador Williams said. “And I hope everyone who is not yet vaccinated talks to their personal doctors or local nurses about the vaccine and gets their questions addressed. The more people vaccinate, the more we can protect our parents and grandchildren. The goal is for us all to ‘Libi Langa’.”