KINGSTON, Jamaica– The Government of Japan is slated to give Jamaica a grant of US$1.22 million to support the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program that is now underway.
The provision will fund the acquisition of cold chain equipment and capacity-building assistance to ensure equitable administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
This forms part of Japan’s Emergency Grant Aid of US$11.1 million, being channeled through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), to assist six Caribbean and Latin American countries with their COVID-19 response programs.
The other beneficiary nations are Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Venezuela.
Japan’s Ambassador to Jamaica, Masaya Fujiwara, told the Jamaica Information Service that the grant assistance, dubbed ‘Last One Mile Support’, aims to ensure the effective and safe distribution of vaccines from the port of deployment to the final destination.
He said the acquisition of cold-storage facilities will enable the Government to establish vaccination sites in remote areas and expand vaccine options to incorporate those requiring specialized preservation, thereby ensuring the “quick and safe delivery of vaccines across Jamaica”.
“We believe that this type of assistance is very helpful to ensure the quick realization of [a] universal vaccination campaign in each country,” he added.
Ambassador Fujiwara expressed the hope that the emergency grant assistance will also aid the Administration in smoothly implementing the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, now under way.
He said that Japan had discussed the support with representatives of Caribbean countries at a virtual high-level Japan/CARICOM meeting in March.
“We feel that there is a big need in these countries for vaccination campaigns [and] they need cold chain facilities. So we have decided to add these, too, to Latin American and Caribbean countries in the emergency assistance,” he explained.
Ambassador Fujiwara said Japan continues to share strong bilateral relations with Jamaica, citing a recent donation of medical equipment and supplies from his government to support COVID-19 efforts at several hospitals island-wide.
He emphasized that combatting the COVID-19 pandemic remains a top priority of the Japanese Government.
“We are very happy to continue in this effort together with the Jamaican Government [as] no one is safe until everyone is safe; this kind of universal health coverage idea is shared by the Jamaican Government. So, we are happy to pursue this kind of partnership in providing these concrete cooperation measures,” he said.
Additionally, he expressed the hope that “this contribution will further strengthen our partnership”.