Health system of Serbia will be more equipped to respond to the mass vaccination challenge thanks to the help by the European Union.
With a signing ceremony today, the EU Ambassador to Serbia, Sem Fabrizi, Ministers of EU Integrations and of Health, Jadranka Joksimovic and dr Zlatibor Loncar and Director to UNOPS office, Michela Telatin, officially announced a new round of EU support to strengthening health system in Serbia in its COVID response.
The EU and Serbia institutions have joined forces to ensure that the effects of COVID 19 continue to be addressed as a priority and Serbia is equipped to roll out its vaccination programme throughout the whole country to ensure a timely and safe distribution of vaccines, with a particular attention to the cold chain.
We have made the decision to reallocate a small but significant part of the funds from very successful programs intended to strengthen local economic development, such as the EU PRO program, in order to strengthen the logistics for the implementation of vaccination,” said Minister Joksimović.
Joksimovic reminded that Serbia was among the first countries, although it is not a member of the EU, to donate two million euros for the development of the vaccine, and later another 100,000 euros. She also emphasised that Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi recently announced an additional 70 million euros non-refundable for the Western Balkans, which will be used to pay for part or the total cost of purchasing vaccines that EU member states are ready to give to the Western Balkans.
The package that was made official today should increase the capacities of the Serbian health system in order to prepare for vaccination.
Minister Lončar thanked the European Union for its support and pointed out that partnership and mutual support of European countries are imperative today because the corona virus knows no borders and attacks all countries equally. Accordingly, it is of the utmost importance that we all jointly respond to the epidemiological challenges of the times in which we live and do everything we can to make the COVID vaccine available to all.
“Serbia was among the first in Europe to provide vaccines and start immunisation, and now we have a big task ahead of us, to vaccinate a large number of our citizens in the coming months. Any bid of support and assistance in achieving that goal, such as what we sign today. are welcome, “ said Minister Loncar.
Since the outbreak of COVID crisis the EU has supported Serbia’s emergency response with over 15 million EUR.
“Back in March, it was the emergency help in the shape of respirators, protection masks, oxygen, and triage containers to face the outbreak of the pandemics. In July the EU has financed the hiring of additional 200 Serbian medical staff for six months to help managing the pressure on health system and provided fully equipped ambulances.
Now we are launching a third package of support, which will help Serbia to continue dealing with the pandemic, particularly in this new phase of the vaccination. By providing altogether 46 additional ambulances and special transportation vehicles as well as 67 different types of freezers and refrigerators, the EU enables capacities for distribution and cold storage of the vaccines throughout Serbia.
At the same time we will extend the engagement of the 200 medical staff personnel for another three months in order to enhance human capacity for the immunisation process, which is now starting. Along the facilitation of the vaccination process, this agreement will also take care of some of most vulnerable groups by providing 3600 supply packages to the Roma community and homeless persons as well as disinfection dispensers for schools and kindergartens in Serbia.
The EU has been supporting Serbia since the outbreak of the pandemics. A stronger health system now able also to manage the vaccination is a priority for us. This is EU solidarity in action’’, concluded Sem Fabrizi, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia.
The EU also adopted yesterday the 70mil EUR package for early access to EU COVID-19 vaccines in the Western Balkans. The package will be disbursed in the form of grants that will help cover the cost of the vaccines for priority groups in the region, as well as necessary vaccination equipment. It will enable the Western Balkans to purchase a number of vaccines from the EU Advance Purchase Agreements with six manufacturers, with individual EU Member States sharing a part of their pre-allocated doses.