Welcome to this signature ceremony. I have the pleasure to be virtually in the presence of Ogerta Manastirliu, Minister of Health and Social Protection, and Brian Williams, the UN Resident Coordinator.
As part of its global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the European Union is helping the Western Balkans with up to 38 million EUR in immediate support to their health sector and overall, 375 million EUR to help the socio-economic recovery of the region.
As it has been announced last week, for Albania this concretely means 4 million EUR for the supply of immediate life-saving medical equipment, and almost 50 Million EUR for social protection and support and to reduce the impact of the crisis on jobs and the economy.
I am very glad that today we are already in the position to sign the supply contract between the EU and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). This contract will ensure the quick provision of specialised medical equipment and devices for the prevention and the treatment of the pandemic outbreak. This equipment will be essential in addressing the current health emergency and to prepare the Albanian health system to better respond to similar threats in the future.
Amongst the equipment financed by the European Union there will be :
fully equipped life-saving ambulances to ensue transport and first aid of the most severe cases,
digital mobile x-rays,
and state of the art equipment for intensive care.
These items have been identified as necessary jointly by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation.
The EU will also provide fully equipped Intensive Care Units beds, protective material and sanitisers for the healthcare workers and operators that are in the frontline of this every day battle.
The situation evolves fats on the ground. This is why the EU support is designed to be flexible to guarantee a quick and efficient response in case of fast-changing needs and emergencies.
We are also looking into possible ways to support other essential frontlines operators, such as the police. But already now the EU law enforcement programme, PAMECA, is already procuring protective kits for the police.
Most of EU Member States are currently facing an unprecedented public health crisis and are striving to address the multiple demands of their healthcare systems. But even in these difficult times, the EU and its Member States have decided to stand by Albania and our Western Balkan partners. As it has happened immediately after the earthquake, Albania can always count on the solidarity of the European Union.
Our aim in providing support to Albania in this difficult moment is to ensure the most efficient and rapid procurement. This is the reason why we have partnered with the United Nations Office for Project Services in Kosovo, North Macedonia and now Albania, to ensure the rapid and quality supply of these much needed items. Their worldwide and regional expertise in procurement coordination and knowledge of the market will ensure that the best equipment will come to Albania as fast as possible.
Minister, I take this occasion to express the EU and the international community support and gratitude to your staff and to all Albanian health workers currently on the very difficult frontline of the fight against COVID. They are all doing a tremendous job and we are all next to them in their daily efforts.
Thank you Minister and thank you Brian for our excellent cooperation to the benefit of the Albanian people and those affected by COVID. Let me also thank my colleagues in the EU Delegation that has made possible with their hard work to come so rapidly to the signature of this important contract.
I will now close this signature ceremony by reminding everyone to respect physical distancing, stay home and support each other emotionally. We are all in this together.