U.S, UNICEF help Thailand fight latest wave of Covid-19

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), continues to build upon its ongoing, robust COVID-19 response in Thailand. Coinciding with World Immunization Week, the two agencies are providing nearly three million syringes and associated vaccine delivery supplies to hospitals and health centers to support Thailand’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

Additionally, the assistance included providing hygiene and medical supplies as well as promoting vaccine literacy and access to health services among vulnerable groups including low-income populations, migrants, ethnic minorities, and communities in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Chiang Mai, Tak and in the Southern Border Provinces of Songkhla, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic entering its third year, upending the lives of families everywhere, the most vulnerable populations continue to suffer the worst consequences in health and well-being, not just today but for years to come if we don’t ramp up our response,” said Kyungsun Kim, UNICEF Representative for Thailand. 

“This means our collective efforts to provide critical support, both immediate and long-term, are far from over for meeting their health and protection needs. Together with USAID and partners, we will continue reaching the most vulnerable children and families with lifesaving support and ensure that no one is left behind.”

Steven G. Olive, Ph.D., Mission Director of USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia, said: “To date, USAID has provided more than 409 million baht (US$12.4 million) in COVID-19 assistance, which complements the delivery by the United States of 2.5 million doses of safe, effective mRNA vaccines to the Royal Thai Government. 

“This latest round of USAID COVID-19 support reflects the sustained effort by the U.S. and the Royal Thai Governments to work in close partnership to mitigate the pandemic’s impact. Working side by side, responding to this pandemic, illustrates our collective effort to improve the health and well-being of our communities and serve the most vulnerable among them.” 

Since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, USAID has provided UNICEF with grants totaling US$2.5 million to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate its social and economic impact on the most vulnerable communities in Thailand.

This most recent package of support from USAID is worth US$1.45 million with a focus on improving access to COVID-19 vaccines as well as addressing vaccine hesitancy. Critical items including lifesaving medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, medical and hygiene supplies, personal protective equipment, COVID-19 Antigen Test Kit, syringes and 0.9% sodium chloride are contributing to Thailand’s COVID-19 response efforts.

Support has also enabled the training of community volunteers in health promotion, vaccine literacy, emergency care, psychological first aid and case management in high-risk provinces including the greater Bangkok area, Chiang Mai, Tak, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

The trained community volunteers track new COVID-19 cases, support community testing, provide first aid and case management, facilitate referrals to health services in addition to providing counselling and home visits to help relieve stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19. Village volunteers, including youth and migrant volunteers, are under training to provide accurate and timely information about COVID-19 prevention and vaccine literacy.

Through this grant, Prince of Songkla University is also conducting a study on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families in the Southern Border Provinces. Findings will be shared with the government and with public and private sector partners to improve services and support to affected communities in these provinces. Community radio and religious and community leaders will spread messages on COVID-19 prevention and vaccine literacy throughout the Southern Border Provinces.

National and local partners of this initiative include: Diocesan Social Action Center, Help Without Frontiers, Komol Keemthong Foundation, Luk Riang Group, Ministry of Public Health, Prince of Songkla University, Raks Thai Foundation and World Vision Foundation of Thailand.

Photo credit: BANGKOK, U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Thailand.

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