A stock of tents and other medical supplies financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have been delivered to health authorities in Kiribati, the first stop of a program aimed at helping the Pacific respond to a potential outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

In the case of future outbreaks of the pandemic, the tents will be used by the Kiribati Ministry of Health and Medical Services as mobile clinics, taking the pressure off existing hospital facilities. Similar health equipment will also be delivered to the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu in the coming days and weeks.

“Although these four countries are currently free of COVID-19, now is not the time for complacency,” said ADB Director General for the Pacific Leah Gutierrez. “This assistance will help the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu to be better prepared for this health emergency.”  

The support to the four Pacific countries to address any future outbreak of COVID-19 includes the purchase of $600,000 worth of medical supplies and personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, gowns, protective suits, thermal scanners, hygiene sets, antiseptics, and other medical equipment.

The funding for the equipment comes from a $2 million grant, announced in February, to help developing countries in Asia and the Pacific contain an outbreak of the pandemic and improve resilience to this and other communicable diseases. The assistance from ADB and UNICEF is being conducted in close collaboration with the World Health Organization.

The $2 million grant complements ADB’s $20 billion package—announced on 13 April—to support member economies as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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