$6.2 million to help Pacific fight coronavirus

The United Kingdom has boosted the Pacific arm of the World Health Organisation’s purse with £1.8 million (T$6.2 million) for the COVID-19 response.

The funds are for supply needs across the region, technical advice on public health and improving active surveillance, infection prevention, and control and developing protocols for case management.

Head of the W.H.O. multi-country office in Samoa, Dr. Rasul Baghirov, said the funds are a welcome development for the Pacific. 

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, met virtually with the U.K.s Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment, Lord Zac Goldsmith, in the first of a series of virtual meetings he is having around the Pacific.

Joined by United Kingdom High Commissioner, David Ward and Ulu Bismarck Crawley, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, the two discussed climate change, next year’s international climate negotiations and climate finance.

According to a statement from the High Commission, Fiame explained the impacts of climate change in Samoa and noted how the U.K. has been increasing its contributions to the climate finance supply. 

After Samoa, Lord Goldsmith is meeting with leaders from Tuvalu, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Palau. He will also speak with the major regional organisations. 

Before the pandemic, the Minister had planned to attend the Pacific Islands Forum in Vanuatu earlier this month, and is holding these virtual meetings instead, to “promote cooperation between the United Kingdom and countries of the Pacific on their shared interests,” the High Commission said.

Lord Goldsmith has been in his role since February 2020 and is responsible for the U.K.s climate change, conservation and biodiversity, oceans, the ‘Blue Belt,’ and Oceania policy.

The U.K. is the next host of the international climate change negotiations meeting, the 26th Conference of the Parties on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. 

It was intended to be this year but has been postponed to November 2021, and is expected to be among the most significant meeting as the world works to agree to international expectations on reducing carbon emissions. 

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