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European Union Assistance for Safe Vaccination Process in Serbia

December 29 2020 | Belgrade

European Union Assistance for Safe Vaccination Process in Serbia

New round of support from the European Union to Serbia has been officially announced today, when Ambassador of the European Union to Serbia Sem Fabrizi, Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović, Minister of Health Zlatibor Lončar and UNOPS Office Director for Serbia Michela Telatin ceremonially signed the Agreement on additional assistance to Serbian health system, in response to the COVID-19 virus pandemic.

The institutions from the EU and Serbia have joined forces to ensure that overcoming the consequences of the COVID-19 virus remains a priority, and that Serbia will be capable of implementing the programme of vaccination in the entire country and ensuring timely and safe distribution of vaccines, by focusing special attention on the equipment for storing vaccines in appropriate temperatures. 

“We have made a decision to reallocate a smaller but still significant part of funds from the highly successful programmes dedicated to enhancing local economic development such as the EU PRO programme in order to enhance the logistics for implementing vaccination”, said Minister Joksimović.

Joksimović has reminded that Serbia has been among the first, although it is not an EU member, to have donated two million Euro to develop the vaccine, and later on another EUR 100,000. She has also emphasised that Commissioner Várhelyi has recently announced another EUR 70 million of grants for the Western Balkans which will be used to pay a part or total expenses for procuring vaccines that the EU member states are ready to give to the Western Balkan region.

The package that has been made official today should enhance the capacities of Serbian health care system for the purposes of preparing for vaccination. 

Minister Lončar has thanked the European Union for the support and emphasised that partnership and mutual support of the European states are the imperative today since Coronavirus knows no borders and equally attacks all countries. In accordance with that, it is of utmost importance that all of us jointly respond to epidemiological challenges of the time we live in and do everything possible so the anti-Covid vaccine would be available to everyone.

“Serbia has been among the first in Europe to have secured the vaccines and started immunisation, but we have a huge task now ahead of us, to immunise a large number of our citizens in the coming months. Any form of support and assistance in realising this goal, such as this one we are signing with the EU today, is more than welcome,” emphasised Minister Lončar.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the EU has supported Serbia with over EUR 15 million.

“In March we had the emergency aid for facing the emerging situation, such as ventilators, additional masks, oxygen and triage containers. In July, the EU funded employment of additional 200 Serbian medical workers for the period of six months to reduce the pressure to the health system. Also, the European Union has secured completely equipped ambulance vehicles. 

We are now initiating the third package of support, which will help Serbia in continuing the fight against pandemic, especially in this new phase of vaccination. By securing another 46 sanitation vehicles and special transport vehicles, as well as 67 different types of freezers and refrigerators, the EU enables the capacities for distribution of vaccines around Serbia, as well as their storage in adequate coolers. At the same time, we will extend the engagement of 200 medical workers for another three months to enhance human capacities during the immunisation process that is about to start.

By facilitating the vaccination process, this Agreement will take care of some of the most vulnerable groups. Members of Roma community and the homeless will receive 3,600 packages with groceries while the disinfectant dispensers will be secured for schools and kindergartens in Serbia. 

The EU supports Serbia from the very outbreak of the pandemic. Our priority is a more robust health care system that is now capable to manage the vaccination. This is the EU solidarity in act”, concluded Sem Fabrizi, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia.

Yesterday, the European Union also adopted a package of EUR 70 million, so the Western Balkans countries would receive access to the vaccines against COVID-19. The package will be disbursed in the form of grants meant for covering expenses of the vaccines for priority groups in the region, as well as necessary equipment for vaccination. This package will enable the Western Balkans countries 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.

Source: Tanjug