COVID-19 Fiji: 2.7 million KN-95 respirators from Australia

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The consignment of KN-95 respirators were officially presented to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, in the presence of the Deputy High Commissioner of Australia to Fiji, Paul Wilson. Picture: FIJIAN GOVERNMENT

A consignment of KN-95 respirators was handed over to the Fijian Government to assist Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services’ (MoHMS) response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2.7 million KN-95 respirators valued at AUD $1.1 million was donated by Australian non-profit organisations, Reach 4 Your Future Foundation (R4YFF) and Medical Pantry in partnership with the Fiji High Commission in Canberra (FHCC) and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) – Fiji Section.

The 5 x 40’ containers that arrived from Australia consisted of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), medical supplies and hospital beds and was officially presented to Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, in the presence of the Deputy High Commissioner of Australia to Fiji, Paul Wilson.

Mr Bainimarama conveyed his appreciation to the Fijian community in Australia for the timely support to Fiji.

“These masks which offer medical-grade protection are testament to the solidarity that binds our global Fijian family. This shipment has arrived to Fiji from the Reach 4 Your Future Foundation in Australia which is led by a proud son of Fiji, Mr Ganesh Chand. We’re also grateful to Medical Pantry in Australia for their support. But we know that figure is well short of their true worth. The protection these masks offer and the lives they will help to save are priceless,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“Providing our healthcare professionals with the best available personal protective equipment has been a top priority for the Government since the coronavirus hit the world’s radar in 2019. We recently announced stronger protocols for PPE among healthcare workers, both in hospital settings and in the field. And through our latest national budget, we are expanding the ranks of our medical teams by funding the hiring of hundreds of new healthcare professionals,” he said.

R4YFF President, Ganesh Chand said R4YFF is grateful for the partnership that led to the delivery of this timely assistance for Fiji.

“In July, R4YFF had an opportunity to partner with Medical Pantry to propose to a primary health care supplier the acquiring of 2.7 million KN95 respirators. In line with the company’s corporate social responsibility charter, our proposal met the company’s humanitarian response program guidelines,” Mr Chand said.

Mr Chand further stated the R4YFF’s month-long discussion with DFAT through FHCC has enabled the mobilisation of the cargo to Suva in July and for that, they are truly grateful.

For future collaboration, R4YFF is working with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services for the easy-to-implement oxygen concentrator devices which can be procured for healthcare settings.

Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said the ministry is grateful for this commendable support and enormous assistance for Fiji’s response to tackling the pandemic.

“This surely is a testament of our everlasting friendship and exemplary collaboration achieved through the Fiji and Australia Vuvale Partnership,” Dr Waqainabete said.

Counsellor at the Fiji High Commission in Canberra, Salote Tagivakatini said the cohesive approach in mobilising this assistance demonstrates the commitment towards Fiji and Australia Vuvale Partnership and the strong bonds of friendship between the two nations and their people.

“Members of our Fijian Communities around Australia have also been instrumental in supporting the efforts of government, either through direct financial support to their families in Fiji or in-kind donations to initiatives coordinated by the Mission. With numerous stakeholders, the goal is the same and it is to serve our people because everything we do is ultimately about them,” Ms Tagivakatini said.

Since March 2020, numerous consignments of medical items, equipment and supplies have been sent to Fiji.

In mid-August, MHMS also received 469 packages of various medical supplies and equipment mobilised with the kind donations of corporate, medical and diaspora community partners in the Australia Capital Territory (ACT) and New South Wales and shipped by Gibson Freight.

The medical equipment, hospital beds and supplies assisted with the setup of isolation centres and in further equipping the Fiji Emergency Medical Assistance Team (FEMAT) established by the MHMS around the country.

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