Med­i­cal Sup­plies De­liv­ery By Air Ser­vices A Big Boost for Pa­cific

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Coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries of the Pa­cific Is­lands and the United Na­tions World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) reached a mile­stone yes­ter­day.

They launched the hu­man­i­tar­ian air ser­vice in the re­gion. The first flight, from Nadi to Port Moresby, Pa­pua New Guinea by a Fiji Air­ways Boe­ing 737-800, com­pleted yes­ter­day, de­liv­ered 44 cu­bic me­tres of es­sen­tial med­i­cal sup­plies. They will be used in the Govern­ment of Pa­pua New Guinea’s re­sponse to COVID-19.

The sup­plies

The sup­plies, in­clud­ing pro­tec­tive masks, suits and gloves, ther­mome­ters, and ven­ti­la­tors were trans­ported on be­half of the Pa­cific Is­lands Fo­rum. This was in sup­port of the Pa­cific Hu­man­i­tar­ian Path­way on COVID-19 – a re­gional co-or­di­na­tion plat­form es­tab­lished by the 18 coun­tries of the fo­rum to fa­cil­i­tate timely and rapid move­ment of med­i­cal and hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance across the re­gion. Pa­cific Is­lands Fo­rum Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Dame Meg Tay­lor said: “The hu­man­i­tar­ian air ser­vice flights are a wel­come demon­stra­tion that the Pa­cific Hu­man­i­tar­ian Path­way on COVID-19 is do­ing what lead­ers in­tended, which is pro­tect­ing cit­i­zens and sup­port­ing health sys­tems.

“We wel­come con­tin­ued part­ner­ship and sup­port as the path­way pro­vides a mech­a­nism led by and for Pa­cific na­tions to help meet their needs while re­spect­ing COVID-19 bor­der shut­downs, special en­try pro­to­cols and safety for our Pa­cific na­tions.”

Air trans­port

The clo­sure of air­ports and ground­ing of air­crafts as a re­sult of COVID-19 pre­ven­tion mea­sures has dra­mat­i­cally re­duced com­mer­cial air ser­vices.

This is plac­ing stress on the re­gion’s sup­ply chains and mak­ing it in­creas­ingly chal­leng­ing for hu­man­i­tar­ian and health or­gan­i­sa­tions to get vi­tal sup­plies and per­son­nel to where they are needed most.

Di­rec­tor of WFP Pa­cific Mul­tiCoun­try Of­fice Jo Pil­grim said: “For the coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries of the Pa­cific is­lands, air and sea trans­port is noth­ing short of a life­line. WFP is proud to be work­ing with Pa­cific Is­land gov­ern­ments and hu­man­i­tar­ian part­ners to re­store cer­tainty to the sup­ply chain and en­sure the de­liv­ery of ur­gently-re­quired med­i­cal sup­plies to the front­lines of the pan­demic. “I would like to thank our donors, in­clud­ing the Govern­ment of Aus­tralia for their con­tin­ued sup­port to WFP’s op­er­a­tions in the Pa­cific, and for mak­ing this air ser­vice a re­al­ity.”

The Pa­cific hu­man­i­tar­ian air ser­vice is part of the greater Pa­cific Hu­man­i­tar­ian Team COVID-19 Re­sponse Plan – a com­pre­hen­sive re­gional re­sponse plan that seeks to con­sol­i­date ef­forts by UN agen­cies, gov­ern­ments, re­gional and mul­ti­lat­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions, NGOs, donors and de­vel­op­ment part­ners.

Photo: United Na­tions World Food Pro­gramme

The hu­man­i­tar­ian air ser­vice de­liv­ered 44 cu­bic me­tres of es­sen­tial med­i­cal sup­plies from Nadi to Port Moresby, PNG on August 6, 2020 us­ing a Fiji Air­ways Boe­ing 737-800.

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