SUVA, Fiji -- U.S. Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga and Tuvalu Joseph Cella and Kiribati Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr. Tinte Itinteang formally launched a training program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) and Zoll Medical to help Kiribati medical technicians and doctors operate the 10 ventilators donated by the U.S. government.
“These ventilators, along with the other U.S. government development assistance in the region, represent our strong commitment as Pacific neighbors, allies, and partners to overcome COVID-19. I am delighted that we are providing training along with the donated ventilators. We look forward to a more prosperous and healthy future for all,” Ambassador Cella said. “Our engagement represents our historic ties and common principles with Kiribati, the timeless truths in our respective founding documents, and speaks directly to where we have been with Kiribati and all i-Kiribati, where we are, and where we are going.”
On August 19, Ambassador Cella formally handed over a total of 50 brand-new, state-of-the-art ventilators to Fiji, Kiribati, and Nauru in response to President Trump’s promise to assist partners and allies in the Pacific Islands, Asia, and around the world to fight COVID-19. Ten of these ventilators were provided to Kiribati to boost the country’s efforts to respond to the threat of the disease in communities.
The virtual training was facilitated by the American manufacturer Zoll Medical in cooperation with the Pacific Community. The ventilators, manufactured in the United States, employ life-saving, state-of-the-art, in-demand technology. Ventilators are used to support patients who need assistance to breathe. In addition to the ventilators, USAID is funding a tailored package of support that includes clinical training for the frontline health workers to safely use and maintain the ventilators.
Kiribati remains among the countries in the region without a confirmed COVID-19 case. Ambassador Cella noted the importance of rapidly scaling up preparedness and response efforts to prepare for the pandemic, commending the Government of Kiribati and SPC for its work to ensure communities are well-protected from the pandemic.
The ventilators build on the U.S. government’s $27.7 million investment to help Pacific Islands countries, to support risk communications, the prevention and control of infectious diseases in health facilities, logistics, coordination efforts, and other activities to address this unprecedented global health crisis.
Ambassador Cella stated “we are now blessed to have Dr. Alexandria Huerta, our Senior Development Advisor for USAID, join us. Dr. Huerta is a force and a highly seasoned expert in the development world, having managed large portfolios for USAID. This further represents our past, present and future with Kiribati as well as our other Pacific Island partners.”
For decades, the United States has been the world’s largest provider of bilateral assistance in health. Over the past 20 years, the United States has invested over $5.21 billion in assistance to the Pacific Islands.