The far flung islands in the Pacific have not been spared the brunt of COVID-19, and despite the low number of cases, these nations which relied heavily on tourism faced a logistical challenge in sending basic goods no thanks to the dramatic cut in passenger flights that would carry belly cargo.
The WHO has been working tirelessly to ensure supplies and healthcare equipment reach these islands, which experienced a recent spike in COVID-19 infections that doubled its total number of cases.
In its latest mission to the Pacific, the organisation coordinated its latest cargo donation worth over €650,000 (US$775,000) with the help of DHL Global Forwarding, including oxygen concentrator sets, patient monitors, and pulse oximeters to help hospitals and healthcare institutions treat virus patients.
With passenger flights and air capacity reduced, the air freight had to be delivered in three tranches, sent some 2 weeks apart. The freight forwarder organised the first shipment from Singapore to Fiji on 22 October and stored the supplies for the last shipment on 19 November.
From Fiji, special flights or shipping lines were then organised into eight nations, including Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Tonga.
“Ensuring that the Pacific Island countries have access to the necessary medical equipment and supplies to prepare for and respond to COVID-19 is a priority for the World Health Organization. But reaching such remote places, especially when so many airports are closed, is a huge logistical challenge,” said WHO’s Dr Takeshi Kasai, regional director for the Western Pacific.”
“Whilst the Pacific Islands’ geographic distance from densely populated countries had helped them avert major outbreaks during the pandemic, it has equally worked against them in acquiring much needed supplies due to the scarcity of air freight capacity,” noted Kelvin Leung, the forwarder’s CEO for Asia Pacific.
“We are glad to be able to play a part in delivering the medical equipment and living up to our purpose of ‘Connecting People, Improving Lives,” he added.
Since the start of the year, DHL Global Forwarding has transported more than 1.3 million COVID-19 test kits from South Korea to Brazil, Ecuador, India, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The freight forwarder also launched a dedicated 100-tonne weekly air freight service for organisations and governments shipping health and medical-related items and other goods from China to Middle East and Africa.