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Friday 14 October 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in Health, National


New Zealand announce additional funding for pandemic preparedness and response
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta during her visit to Rarotonga hospital yesterday. NZHC Cook Islands/22101323

The New Zealand Government has boosted the Cook Islands Government’s Covid-19 response.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who was in Rarotonga yesterday, announced additional funding of $3.8 million for the Polynesian Health Corridors programme for pandemic preparedness and response over the next year, as well as access to Covid-19 oral antivirals from New Zealand’s domestic supply for the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau.

It also includes provision of second Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine boosters to the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau as requested.

Mahuta said she had been hugely impressed with the Cook Islands Government’s response to the pandemic.

“To be able to achieve 98 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated (for the first dosage) is remarkable,” Mahuta said.

“I was really pleased to go out there and thank the frontline staff at Rarotonga hospital.

“There remain challenges, but it’s all going to take us working together.

“The impact of Covid-19 is still being felt around the world, including the Pacific. As we continue our re-connections this year, we have a clear focus on supporting the social and economic resilience of our Pacific partners and their health priorities.”

Mahuta said providing treatments and vaccines through our domestic supply, and increasing access to antiviral treatments in collaboration with the World Health Organization, will enhance countries’ ability to respond to the pandemic and save lives.

“Health systems across the world have felt the burden of Covid-19. It is our responsibility as a Pacific nation to work together with our Pacific partners to strengthen our collective capabilities to prepare for and respond to pandemics. In the long run, this helps us all in our efforts to achieve a safer, prosperous and resilient Pacific,” Mahuta said.

At a joint press conference with Mahuta, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown said the collaboration with the New Zealand Government during the Covid-19 pandemic had protected the lives of thousands of people in the Cook Islands.

“It was a key factor that ensured the Cook Islands remained relatively untouched by the pandemic from a health perspective,” PM Brown said.

“We were spared much of the devastation that other countries experienced.”

Since the pandemic began in the Cook Islands, there have been 6389 cases of Covid-19.

Mahuta also announced a $1.1 million contribution to the World Health Organization to increase access to Covid-19 therapeutics in the wider Pacific, with accompanying technical support.