Remarks by Brendan O’Brien
Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy
During donation of additional $2 million to combat COVID-19 in El Salvador
The pandemic forced us to experience unpredictable challenges this past year.
Frankly, none of us could have calculated what it would mean for our families, our communities, and our countries. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected us all and made it clear how important it is to have access to a robust healthcare system to ensure the well-being of a nation.
But this challenge did not take us by surprise in terms of our commitment and how we support the Government of El Salvador. As partners for decades, and we have been here for a long time, just as we were after Hurricane Mitch, the 2001 earthquakes, Tropical Storm Stan, among others.
As a trusted partner, the United States is committed to accompanying the Government of El Salvador in safeguarding its people.
In the early months of the pandemic, we focused our assistance on providing medical personnel with the supplies necessary to protect them.
Since March 2020, we have provided more than $2 million in hygiene supplies, protective equipment and other supplies to the frontline health care workers who have been the heroes in the tireless fight against this pandemic.
When tropical storms Iota and Amanda hit the country last year and threatened the food security of hundreds of Salvadorans, USAID mobilized more than $3 million to address this immediate and life-threatening need for a very vulnerable population.
The Department of Defense, through the Southern Command, has donated $2 million for medical equipment and supplies for Ministry of Health personnel, quarantine centers, and various agencies of the Government of El Salvador, while the Law Enforcement and Anti-Narcotics Office provided nearly half a million dollars for PNC personnel, and the Attorney General’s Office, among others.
In other words, in a time of need, uncertainty and change, the U.S. government through all its agencies has activated all available assistance to support the Government of El Salvador in this crisis.
To date we have contributed a total of $28 million in support alone in the fight against COVID-19, covering all areas, ranging from security, to health, to the economy, so that the Government of El Salvador can continue to move forward.
And we are not done yet.
Now, we are leveraging our experience in implementing large and complex initiatives around the world and have used this knowledge to help the Government of El Salvador strengthen and develop its capacity to make its vaccination campaign effective and efficient.
This $2 million grant is focused on ensuring that institutions like CENABI have all the necessary tools to support the logistics of administering the COVID-19 vaccine, training staff on the tools and systems so they can do their job in the best possible way and establishing standardized processes that will leave the Government of El Salvador with the capacity to implement other vaccination campaigns in the future.
We want to congratulate the Government of El Salvador for its response to the pandemic and to strengthen the Government of El Salvador by providing cooperation that will endure over time. The United States wants to leave a legacy that will benefit Salvadorans today and tomorrow. For example, to strengthen the Government of El Salvador’s health care system, last year we donated 600 mechanical ventilators that have saved lives and will continue to do so for years to come.
While the pandemic has been a global public health challenge, our assistance has not only focused on this area. Given the challenge of economic recovery following the pandemic, now more than ever we are committed to helping the Government of El Salvador thrive.
That is why USAID has also allocated $2 million to support small and medium-sized enterprises in key industries to revive and strengthen their businesses, so that the Government of El Salvador is prepared to compete in the post-pandemic world. These companies will increase their revenues and employ Salvadoran workers.
We believe strongly in supporting our partners in difficult times. The United States is the largest donor to COVAX – the donor alliance that donated 30,000 COVID-19 vaccines to the Government of El Salvador and more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Forty percent of the partnership’s funding comes from the United States.
We have contributed $2 billion to COVAX for the global purchase of vaccines and plan to contribute another $2 billion. These vaccines have not been sold but donated without any negotiation and at no cost. This will provide access to vaccines to countries around the world, including the Government of El Salvador.
We will continue to work with the Government of El Salvador and all relevant partners to support them in their COVID-19 prevention, mitigation, detection, and care efforts.
Our mission is to save lives, it is our number one priority. Together we save lives, together we move forward.