Tuesday, 27 July 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
802. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he will take to help alleviate the Covid-19 crisis in Uganda; the level of PPE, treatments and vaccines that Ireland can assist Uganda to rapidly access; his views on the Covid-19 assistance to Irish Aid’s other partner countries and to the other countries described to be experiencing devastating conditions such as Paraguay and Peru; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39076/21]
821. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the aid including pieces of medical equipment and vaccines Ireland is offering to countries including Tunisia that are struggling to combat Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39566/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 802 and 821 together.
Our response to the COVID pandemic in Africa, as elsewhere, is informed by Ireland’s commitment to reach the furthest behind first, set out in the international development policy, ‘A Better World’ and reiterated in the Africa Strategy.
Building on Ireland’s strong track record over many years of strengthening healthcare systems across Africa, Ireland took the lead to ensure effective co-ordinated international action to support the COVID-19 response of several African states.
Ireland was the first bilateral donor in 2020 in Uganda to release funding amounting to €1.8 million to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to support the country’s COVID response plan, which enabled the procurement of 145,000 COVID-19 test kits and lifesaving equipment by the WHO.
In responding to COVID-19 in Uganda, Ireland is working to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged by supporting the provision of social welfare grants to senior citizens and the provision of cash and food to Uganda’s 1.4 million refugees, as well as education and training. COVID-19 has increased the vulnerability of refugees and Ireland’s response has included the doubling of financial support to the UN’s World Food Programme in Uganda to €2m in 2020 and 2021.
In 2021, through the Irish Aid programme, Ireland has allocated approximately €100 million to global public health. Some €5 million of this has gone directly to support COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries. €4 million of this has been in direct support to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility. In some instances, Irish Aid support to health systems to cope with the pandemic has been supplemented with support from the HSE Global Health Programme.
Ireland’s support sits within the broader Team Europe response. While the EU and Member States have committed over €3.2 billion to COVAX, clearly still much more needs to be done. COVAX is beginning to show some real results, shipping over 129 million vaccines to 136 participant countries as of mid-July, including more than a million doses delivered to Uganda; almost 930,000 doses to Tunisia, more than 1.6 million doses to Peru; and more than 300,000 doses delivered to Paraguay. Further support to COVAX before the end of the year is under consideration. Over recent months, Ireland has also shipped equipment and drugs directly to India, Brazil and Nepal, from HSE supplies. Those supplies are now exhausted.
Complementary to our work with EU partners and multilateral agencies, such as Gavi and the Global Fund, Ireland has been working with partner countries for many years to strengthen their health systems and build preparedness capacity, such as our support in 2019 for Ebola preparedness in Uganda. This pandemic has reinforced the importance of such efforts, and the need for further concerted action to build national capacities.