Japan, UNOPS strengthening COVID-19 response in four CARICOM Member States

The CARICOM-Japan Consultation underway on Wednesday (Photo via Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belize)
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(Department of Public Information) The Government of Japan will contribute USD 4.8 million towards a Project managed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for Enhancing the Healthcare System through the Provision of Medical Equipment in Belize, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago.
The agreement for this collaboration was signed (Wednesday) in a ceremony held at the UNOPS office in San José with the participation of Hon. KOMATSU Shinjiro, Ambassador of Japan in Costa Rica; Mr. Alejandro Rossi, Director of the UNOPS Multi-Country Office for Costa Rica, Panama and the English & Dutch Speaking Caribbean; and Ms. Anesa Ali-Rodríguez, in representation of the Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago in San Jose.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit every country differently, but it has equally showcased the importance of strengthening public health systems. In order to provide an efficient and effective COVID-19 response, governments focus a great part of their efforts towards ensuring solid healthcare systems to safeguard the population.

Through a grant from the Government of Japan (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), UNOPS will support the procurement of 4.8 million US dollars of essential medical equipment, medical supplies and personal protective equipment to aid in the public health response to the current crisis. By providing support to the governments, the project will contribute to enhance the healthcare systems of Belize, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago; benefitting around 57,420 people.

“Japan hopes to continue strengthening relations of friendship and goodwill with the nations of Belize, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago and contribute to the global response against the new coronavirus. It is in the mutual interest of our countries to continue collaborating closely to face the enormous health, economic and social challenge that COVID-19 has posed for humanity”, said His Excellency Hon. Ambassador of Japan in Costa Rica, KOMATSU Shinjiro.

“Within the framework of our mandate as the central procurement resource of the United Nations System, UNOPS has been working with the Government of Japan on a global scale. It is an honor to once again be able to work alongside the Health authorities of Caribbean governments, and contribute from the United Nations System to the strategy for an effective response to the pandemic and an improvement of the national health systems; all while applying the highest standards in procurement within the approach of fair public management”, stated Mr. Alejandro Rossi, Director of the UNOPS Multi-Country Office for Costa Rica, Panama, and the English & Dutch Speaking Caribbean.

To date, and within the framework of a global alliance with UNOPS, the Government of Japan has contributed to other Latin American countries; such as Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico; with significant contributions to expand their response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic; supporting the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3 “Good Health and Well-Being” and the implementation of Fair Public Management. The most recent of these agreements was with Costa Rica, to supply 12 hospitals of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund with medical equipment for a value close to USD 3 million.

“On behalf of the Government of Belize, the Ministry of Health & Wellness expresses its gratitude for such immense solidarity for our people and nation. The project’s importance is to strengthen our national response and collaborative partnership with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the Government of Japan. This alliance with the Government of Japan and Belize most certainly draws us closer and will strengthen our health system by providing much-needed Medical Equipment. As we sign the project agreement to promote health systems, I am confident it will serve the community and provide better healthcare for Belize during these difficult times of COVID-19. As the Minister of Health & Wellness, I remain thankful to Japan’s Ambassador and the Director of the UNOPS as they sign off today and formalise the agreement between UNOPS and the Government of Japan. The Government of Belize recognises this union as a philanthropic ceremony being hosted today at the UNOPS headquarters in Costa Rica” said His Excellency Michel Chebat, Ministry of Health & Wellness of the Government of Belize.

“The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is honoured to be chosen to participate in this initiative and commends the Government of Japan for its leadership and vision in implementing this offer. The outbreak of COVID-19 has placed enormous pressure on healthcare systems around the world and has highlighted, inter alia, the importance of adequate health infrastructure to serve the population. So far, Trinidad and Tobago has been able to manage this health crisis and this donation of medical equipment will be utilised by the public institutions under the purview of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to continue our national efforts. The provision of such equipment is another significant demonstration of the deep relations that exist between Japan and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and, by extension, the Caribbean Community. The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago wishes to express its appreciation to the Government of Japan’s provision of medical equipment via the United Nations Office for Project Services to combat the spread of COVID-19.” said Senator the Honourable Dr. Amery Browne, Minister for Foreign and CARICOM Affairs of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and CARICOM Representative.

The project will be managed by UNOPS in a comprehensive manner, safeguarding the procurement and delivery process while strictly adhering to the requirements of the health authorities of the Caribbean countries; hence ensuring the highest quality, transparency and performance of the economic resources provided by the Government of Japan.

“The Government and people of Guyana wish to express profound gratitude to the Government and people of Japan for this generous donation which will aid in acquiring personal protective equipment and other medical supplies. This gesture is a great symbol of our solidarity and the value placed on our strategic partnership and robust diplomatic ties. With cases of COVID-19 spreading across the world and claiming thousands of lives and huge resources, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are on the frontlines of the pandemic as they care for critically ill patients. Facing enormous challenges, they are responding with courage, resolve and exemplary professionalism. Your donation is therefore extremely important to our cause and will definitely contribute to not only their protection but also their patients well-being, as they continue to provide the highest standard of care. Thank you so much for this generous donation, and we look forward to the implementation of this project.” stated The Honourable Dr. Frank Anthony, Minister of Health of Guyana.

“The Government and People of the Republic of Suriname express their sincere appreciation to the Government and People of Japan for the Grant Aid to four Caribbean countries, including Suriname, to be supported by the valuable services of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), for the Project to Improve the Health System through the Provision of Medical Equipment. As such, this project will further enable Suriname to effectively respond to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, which has put added pressure on Suriname’s economic and health system. This great gesture of Japan, as a strategic cooperation partner of Suriname, will effectively support the health authorities of Suriname in the achievement of people’s welfare and well-being and gives Suriname some financial space to meet other commitments for sustainable development of the country and its people. Suriname and Japan cooperate in various areas, including fisheries, climate, disaster management, public health, capacity building, energy, community development, at the bilateral, multilateral, and bi-regional level. The formal diplomatic relations date back from 1976, almost 45 years. The Government of Suriname remains fully committed to cooperate with UNOPS for an effective and efficient implementation of the Project and reiterates its appreciation to the Government of Japan for this Grant Aid”, said His Excellency Albert R. Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation of the Republic of Suriname.

Honourable Ambassador Komatsu, Mr. Rossi, Ms. Ali-Rodriguez and other key government authorities from the Caribbean expressed their encouragement towards the project and gratitude for the joint collaboration towards ensuring an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Caribbean countries.

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