U.S. Official Visit Reinforces United States’ Commitment to Kiribati’s COVID-19 Response & Recovery

August 16, 2022, Kiribati – U.S. Embassy Suva Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) Tony Greubel visited the Tungaru Central Hospital in Nawerewere and Junior Secondary School in Bikenibeu to meet partners and reiterate the U.S. government’s commitment to partnering with Kiribati to address the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States has allocated a total of 53,820 Pfizer doses to Kiribati to address its ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

At Tungaru Hospital, CDA Greubel met with Ministry of Health and Medical Services representatives led by Director of Public Health Eretii Timeon and Director of Medical Services Tekeua Uriam Kabiri, who briefed him on United States Agency for International Development (USAID) initiatives at the health facility. In partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), USAID is implementing the COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Assistance Support project in ten Pacific Island countries, including Kiribati. The project supports vaccine readiness, delivery, and post-delivery monitoring.

Tungaru Hospital is one of the public hospitals in Kiribati that received mechanical ventilators from the U.S. government to treat critically ill patients. Through its Meeting Targets and Maintaining Epidemic Control (EpiC) project, USAID also provided clinical training to set up and operate the ventilators and strengthened the capacity of health care workers in COVID-19 clinical case management.

CDA Greubel also visited the Junior Secondary School in Bikenibeu and joined Ministry of Education partners led by Reetina Katokita, Director Policy, Planning, Research and Development, to observe the school’s WASH Drive. With USAID support, UNICEF built handwashing stations and taught school children proper handwashing techniques and other health protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19. CDA Greubel also witnessed the COVID-19 vaccination drive for 12-17 year-old children and spoke about the importance of getting vaccinated.

“I salute our medical frontliners and education partners who continue to risk their lives to treat patients and limit the spread of COVID-19 in the country,” CDA Greubel said. “As a proud Pacific nation and a close partner and ally of the people of Kiribati, the United States remains committed to supporting you in your journey to recovery from this global health crisis.”

“COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Widespread vaccination is instrumental in helping curb the spread of COVID-19, and USAID’s support to Kiribati through COVAX is making a big difference,” said Nick Rice Chudeau, UNICEF Pacific’s Chief of Field Office for Kiribati. “We thank USAID for its continued and strengthened partnership with UNICEF to support the people of Kiribati through this global pandemic.”

Since the pandemic began, the U.S. government, through USAID, has provided over $57 million in direct COVID-19 relief and recovery assistance to the Pacific Islands region, including Kiribati. U.S. assistance has helped train healthcare workers, establish quarantine facilities,