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The European Union and the WHO Regional Office for Europe will work together in a major effort to support the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination in Ukraine. The project funded by the European Union and implemented by WHO will cover all phases – constituting “end-to-end” support – of COVID-19 vaccine deployment and vaccination and will also serve as a major investment to strengthen the routine immunisation system.
The project will be implemented by WHO over a three-year period as part of a EUR 40 million European Union-funded initiative to support the Eastern Partnership countries in preparing for, deploying and monitoring the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
“The European Union has stood by Ukraine since the onset of the pandemic. We have provided medical equipment like oxygen concentrators for its hospitals and protective equipment for its frontline workers; we have supported Ukraine’s small businesses and cultural industry with access to finance; and we have mobilised protection for vulnerable groups like conflict-affected people and women whose livelihoods and personal safety were at risk during the lockdown. The WHO has been a key partner for the EU and now that vaccination is becoming accessible, we are happy to continue working hand in hand to ensure Ukraine is ready to receive and deploy vaccines”, said Ambassador Matti Maasikas, Head of the European Union Delegation to Ukraine.
Viktor Liashko, Deputy Minister of Health, Chief State Sanitary Doctor of Ukraine, noted: “We deeply appreciate the support provided to Ukraine by our international partners, who help us to overcome the coronavirus epidemic not with words but with concrete actions. Thanks to support of the European Union and the World Health Organization we will be able to effectively and coherently carry out all stages of vaccination provided by the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan against COVID-19. It is possible to stop the pandemic in Ukraine and in the world only by joint efforts, so we are grateful to our partners for their help and unity for the common goal of overcoming COVID-19.”
Dr. Jarno Habicht, the WHO Representative and Head of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine, said: “Vaccines offer hope and protection to those fighting on the frontlines of this pandemic and to those at highest risk. Thanks to this generous support and collaboration with European Union, WHO can scale up its efforts to support Ukraine to ensure that vaccines can reach those who need them most, as soon and as efficiently as possible. Our joint and multi-year actions will support COVID vaccine deployment and vaccination in Ukraine, as well strengthens overall immunisation programme in medium term.”
The project builds on the European Union’s and WHO’s ongoing support to countries’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the joint €35 million EU Solidarity for Health Initiative, aimed to support the partner countries in their fight against the virus and address better the needs of the most vulnerable people. Since early 2020, the EU has mobilised over 190 million euro to help Ukraine face the challenges of COVID-19, supporting its health system, frontline workers, small and medium-sized businesses and vulnerable groups. It has activated its Civil Protection Mechanism to transfer medical equipment and supplies from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland and Slovakia to Ukraine and is providing emergency Macro-Financial Assistance worth EUR 1.2 billion to Ukraine to help limit the economic fallout of the pandemic. Finally, the European Union is the largest donor to COVAX, an initiative which is set to provide the first batches of vaccines to Ukrainian frontline workers shortly. These efforts are part of #TeamEurope, the EU’s global approach to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The role of the WHO Country Office in Ukraine is to support the country in creating and strengthening policies for sustainable health development and work on health system strengthening and continuously also on matters related to access to essential health services.
This includes providing technical guidance in public health-related issues, supporting the development of standards and guidelines, building up local relationships for efficient technical cooperation, and ensuring that public health measures are coordinated and in place during crises.
Currently, the Country Office in Ukraine is focusing its work on COVID-19 response and cooperation with the health authorities and other institutions involved in the country-level coordination, planning, and monitoring, case investigation, infection prevention and control. WHO has been supporting improvement of the national and regional capacities to diagnose COVID-19 via the national laboratory system, and improving clinical standards and approaches in the country.