The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is to provide 50 mobile units to the Ministry of Health as a means of supporting the Vaccination Campaign against Covid-19. The delivery ceremony for the first five units took place this morning at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and counted on the presence of the Secretary of State for Health, Diogo Serras Lopes, the Covid-19 vaccination task-force coordinator, Vice-Admiral Gouveia e Melo, the President of ARS Norte, Carlos Nunes, as well as the Gulbenkian Foundation President, Isabel Mota.
The vehicles are equipped to carry out safe and effective immunisation and enable vaccines to reach more vulnerable populations, with limited ability to travel and less access to healthcare units.
These first five units shall depart on 11 March for the north of Portugal where they shall be deployed in the project’s pilot phase. Thus, and through to the end of the month, they shall crisscross the catchment areas of the Health Centre Groups selected by the Norte ARS – the Regional Health Administration – Gerês Cabreira, Alto Tâmega e Barroso, Marão e Douro Norte, Douro Sul and Feira Arouca –, in accordance with the planning handed down by the Covid-19 Vaccination Task-Force.
Following this pilot phase in the Norte region, the mobile units shall be rolled out in the rest of the country in accordance with the ongoing Vaccination Plan. This model, which plans for not only vaccination on a case-by-case basis, “at home” but also the scope for vaccinations to take place inside the vehicles, plans to accomplish up to 100,000 vaccinations.
“Precisely one year ago, in March 2020, we launched a Covid-19 Emergency Fund that has since distributed around €6.4M, supporting dozens of different projects that have reached over one million direct beneficiaries. Included in this Fund are €500,000 for setting up the European Global Coronavirus Initiative fund that is to undertake research into vaccines for Covid-19. More recently, we proposed to the Ministry of Health the founding of a national network of Mobile Vaccination Units to ensure vaccines are able to reach the most isolated communities, with dependent and bed-ridden elderly who would otherwise experience great difficulty in gaining support”, explained Isabel Mota, President of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
This partnership with the Ministry of Health ensures the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation renders continuity to its legacy of being wherever most needed, especially in the field of health. We would recall how, in 1958, two years after its own launch, the Foundation sent out the very first Mobile Libraries that over almost 45 years subsequently transported 97 million books to some 29 million readers dotted across 3,900 rural communities nationwide. Less than a decade later, in 1965, the Foundation was financing the first national scale vaccination plan, acquiring vaccines against polio, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough and, to provide but one example, bringing about the vaccination of 3 million children against polio in this same year. As a result of this plan, Portugal became one of the very first countries to eradicate polio. Just like yesterday, the Gulbenkian reaching today where it’s most needed.