Covid-19 pandemic: US Govt ready to help Guyana on road to recovery

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Guyana is set to benefit from US$1.5 million in ‘Urgent COVID-19 Assistance’ provided by the United States government to support some Caribbean Countries in their vaccination campaigns.

This was announced by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Caribbean Affairs and Haiti, Barbara Feinstein, during her visit to Guyana on Thursday when she met with Acting President Mark Phillips.

She disclosed that this assistance is being made through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for countries in the Eastern Caribbean region, including The Bahamas, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

According to a missive from the United States Embassy in Georgetown, this assistance will be focused on helping countries with vaccine deployment and readiness, and includes efforts to address vaccine hesitancy and combat vaccine mis- and dis-information.

It noted that the additional support will assist with community vaccination campaigns and engagement activities, strengthen the cold chain environment, train healthcare workers, and develop regional and country specific campaigns to increase vaccine uptake.

Activities will be implemented through local, regional, and international organisations such as the local Ministries of Health, local non-governmental organizations, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), UNICEF, and the USAID Country Health Information Systems and Data Use (CHISU) project implemented by JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc.

US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, remarked that “The United States Government is committed to assisting the government and people of Guyana on the road to recovery after the devastation of COVID-19.”

Meanwhile, USAID Regional Representative for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, Clinton. D. White, further added that, “The funding will fill key gaps to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine uptake, and strengthen countries’ preparedness for future pandemic threats.”

USAID has provided nearly $63 million in COVID-19 assistance to the Caribbean since the beginning of the pandemic to address health, humanitarian, and economic impacts. This includes over $7million for partner countries in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean region.

In addition to the over 300,000 vaccine doses from the U.S. Government to Guyana, USAID’s partnership with the Ministry of Health, Guyana has included prevention and vaccination messaging reaching nearly 70 per cent of the population, distribution of critical hygiene and prevention supplies in indigenous communities, and tents to support mobile vaccination clinics in rural areas to increase vaccine accessibility and availability.

According to the US Embassy, diseases know no borders. The missive further detailed that the United States Government is committed to partnering with its Caribbean neighbours, partners, and friends to end the COVID-19 pandemic, save lives, and stop the threat of dangerous new variants.

Guyana rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination exercise just over a year ago on February 11, 2021.

Latest figures show that so far, more than 437,630 or 85.3 per cent of adults have taken a first dose and of that amount, some 335,691 or 65.4 per cent of persons 18 years and over are fully vaccinated.

For adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, approximately 34,234 or 46.2 per cent of them have received their first dose, while some 24,896 or 34.1 per cent of them are fully immunised.

Meanwhile, in excess of 57,071 persons have returned for their booster shots thus far.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Feinstein is currently in Guyana on a three-day visit during which she will meet with various government officials, the Opposition, CARICOM and civil society stakeholders.

On Thursday, she met with People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – the leading party in the APNU/AFC Opposition – leader Aubrey Norton and other party members. They discussed the priorities for Guyana with respect to governance, security and prosperity.

Meanwhile, later that evening, Ambassador Lynch hosted a dinner reception in honour of the visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary. Prime Minister Phillips, who is performing the functions of President, attended the event along with several other ministers of government including
Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira; Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd.