Deputy Chief of Mission Elias Parra Remarks at Health Promotion Material Handover in Covalima

 Excellency Representative of Director General of the Ministry of Health,

Administrator of Covalima Municipality,

PNTL Commanders,

Community Chiefs,

USAID Mission Director,

UNICEF Country Director,

Doctors and nurses and distinguish guest

Good morning!

I am pleased to join UNICEF Director Valérie Taton, USAID Mission Director Jim Wright and representatives from the Ministry of Health, and all of you this morning here at Covalima Community Health Center.

First of all, I want to congratulate the Ministry of Health, the government, and the people of Timor-Leste on their successful efforts thus far to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Timor-Leste.   Timor-Leste’s many dedicated health workers and first responders deserve our special thanks.

While the number of COVID-19 cases in Timor-Leste has been low, two new cases have recently been reported. We must continue to be vigilant until the virus is fully eliminated, and we must continue to follow medical and expert recommendations to reduce risk for ourselves, our families, and our communities.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us to win the fight against this virus, which continues to surge in many countries, including our neighbor, Indonesia. Our best defense against the virus is to continue to practice proper hygiene, hand washing, social distancing, and wearing masks when social distancing is not possible.

The COVID-19 virus is strong, but we are stronger. That’s why the work UNICEF is doing, with support from the United States, is so important. USAID announced a $500,000 award for UNICEF last month. This money will go toward risk communication, community engagement, infection control, and water and sanitation in several municipalities – including here in Covalima.

This award is part of the $1.7 million that the United States has provided so far to support Timor-Leste’s fight against COVID-19.

The United States is also the largest multilateral organization contributor to the fight against COVID-19. We are leading the global response to COVID-19 with foreign assistance funding. The U.S. Government has allocated $20.5 billion for the development of vaccines and therapeutics, preparedness efforts, and other foreign assistance. Our global efforts build upon decades of U.S. investment in life-saving health and humanitarian assistance. We continue to ensure that the substantial U.S. funding and scientific efforts remain a central and coordinated part of the worldwide effort against this deadly virus.

Let’s talk about what that means here in Timor-Leste. The United States has supported Timor-Leste’s health sector since independence, providing over $70 million to strengthen the health system and access to health services for the Timorese people. As the USAID Mission Director said, that means tangible results for the people in Covalima: more thorough care, cleaner facilities, and better results.

Our partnership with UNICEF helps strengthen infection prevention and control in health facilities like this one. All staff, patients, and visitors are now able to manage the virus and other germs by washing their hands frequently with soap and water, and disinfecting surfaces thoroughly. These simple actions are proven weapons in the war against COVID-19 and other infections.

We also need to remember that as we battle COVID-19, we must continue efforts to address other medical issues: pregnant women must continue to have regular check-ups and parents must continue to get required immunizations for their children.  This is a battle we fight on many fronts.

Today is a day to celebrate. Thank you to UNICEF Director Valérie Taton and her staff at UNICEF for their dedicated work.

I thank and applaud the work of the government and people of Timor-Leste in confronting this public health emergency once again. The United States remains a steadfast partner with Timor-Leste in its efforts to fight COVID-19.

Thank you so much!