Copenhagen, Denmark, 11 February 2021
The European Union (EU) and the WHO Regional Office for Europe will work together in a major effort to support deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination in the six EU Eastern Partnership countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The project, funded by the EU and implemented by the Regional Office, will cover all phases – constituting “end-to-end” support – of COVID-19 vaccine deployment and vaccination. It will also serve as a major investment to strengthen routine immunization systems in the six countries.
With a total budget of €40 million over a three-year period, this is the largest EU and WHO joint action ever implemented in the European Region. It will complement ongoing and forthcoming work through global and regional solidarity initiatives, such as the WHO co-led COVAX Facility and the EU sharing mechanism, to ensure access to vaccines in these countries.
“Successful vaccination requires much more than vaccine development and dissemination. This comprehensive ‘end-to-end’ initiative, generously supported by the European Union, will allow the WHO Regional Office for Europe to ensure that Eastern Partnership countries are well prepared, immunization systems are in place, and personnel are trained to deliver the precious COVID-19 vaccines to those who need them most. And the work does not end there. Monitoring of uptake and vaccine safety must continue as more vaccines are rolled out across populations. All of us have a responsibility to make sure that no country is left behind in this complex process. I thank the European Union for their solidarity and commitment to work with us to stop this pandemic,” said Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe.
The funds will initially be used to support the phases of preparedness and readiness in the six countries, with an emphasis on imminent needs in strategic programmatic areas such as planning, equipment/supplies, training of health workers and information campaigns. This will be followed with support for effective deployment and monitoring of vaccine roll-out.
The project builds on the EU’s and WHO’s ongoing support to countries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the joint €35 million EU Solidarity for Health Initiative, aimed at providing an effective response to COVID-19 and strengthening the six Eastern Partnerships countries’ national capacities to effectively prevent, prepare for, and respond to public health emergencies. The planned actions are in line with ongoing implementation of the European Programme of Work, which is helping countries build future emergency preparedness while responding to the current COVID-19 pandemic.