Following the signing of the project “Strengthening health capacity for the COVID-19 crisis”, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in Cuba, with funding from the Government of Japan and the participation of Cuban authorities, is beginning the actions of this collaboration aimed at ensuring human security in times of pandemic, by supporting the health system, the vaccination campaign and health education.

The project is in the process of purchasing equipment and supplies worth USD 2 018 570.48 to contribute to strengthening the technical capacities of Cuban health institutions and two science centres belonging to BioCubaFarma, linked to the development of vaccines.

The support will benefit a total of 253 polyclinics in the provinces of Pinar del Río, Havana, Matanzas, Camagüey, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo and the Special Municipality of Isla de la Juventud; it will also strengthen the institutional capacities of 14 hospitals in Havana linked to maternal and child care, as well as the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) and the Finlay Vaccine Institute (IFV). The project is estimated to benefit a total population of 6.6 million people, including 1,271,231 children.

The resources being procured include equipment to strengthen the cold chain, vaccination supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), means to ensure adequate hygiene conditions, accessories for oxygen therapy, high-performance ultrasound equipment for paediatric and gynaecobstetric hospitals, and an equipped ambulance for life support, among others.

The project will also provide technical training for health personnel in charge of the immunisation programme, linked to paediatric care and neonatal nursing at the primary health care level. Health promotion and education interventions will also be developed.

These actions are expected to improve the institutional response and technical capacities of health care to treat complications linked to COVID-19, strengthen the technical capacities of health personnel in vaccine administration and maternal and child care, and contribute to raising public awareness of the benefits of vaccines, COVID-19 prevention and other good practices.

This project, submitted and approved by the Government of Japan, is aligned with the Government of Cuba’s National Response Plan for the control and containment of COVID-19 and UNICEF’s Emergency Response Plan for the health sector.

The agreement will be implemented with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment (Mincex), the Ministry of Public Health (Minsap), provincial health directorates, BioCubaFarma, the Finlay Vaccine Institute, the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

On the important donation, the representative of Unicef Cuba, Alejandra Trossero, said: “This joint collaborative effort between the government and people of Japan and Unicef will strengthen Cuba’s actions to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to ensure the welfare of children, adolescents and their families.