The Government of Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity formed an ad hoc group to negotiate through diplomatic channels the purchase of vaccines against Covid-19. So far, the team has reached out to the Embassies of the USA, China and Russia in Sarajevo, one of the team members, Environment and Tourism Minister Edita Djapo, told N1.
The new initiative comes after several failed attempts of the FBiH authorities to purchase the vaccines through local wholesalers, a procedure that is still ongoing. Bosnia as a whole, received the first shipment of vaccines through the COVAX system on Thursday, about 50,000 doses, which makes only a small portion of the total of 1.23 million doses that the country paid for.
Besides the doses that were delivered on Thursday, Bosnia also received donations from several countries including Serbia, Turkey and Slovenia.
“We convinced them to take us as state bodies because citizens do not care if it is the state canton or the Council of Ministers making the procurement. We have our Public Health Institute, Health Ministry and as the Government, we want to provide the vaccines for citizens,” stressed Djapo.
Chinese Embassy was the first one to respond, explaining what the authorities need to do to get the desired quantity of China-made vaccine against Covid-19.
According to Djapo, Bosnia will need at least a million to million and a half vaccines besides those that were ordered through COVAX.
“We need to make decisions. Israel is insisting on everyone getting a vaccine, without having it done no one can enter public transportation or supermarket. Immunisation is the best response, we got money to buy vaccines for every citizen,” she said.
Head of the FBiH entity Public Health Institute will prepare a draft paper with necessary quantities and desired producers, said Djapo, adding that the competent bodies will then proceed with letter of intents and everything else that is necessary for the procurement procedure.
Speaking to N1, the minister said the state-level government, formally the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, “slept through this whole period,” with FM Bisera Turkovic failing to activate the country's diplomatic-consular network and Civil Affairs Minister Ankica Gudeljevic who held no single meeting with health minister at the lower level of authorities.
Djapo could not tell how long the negotiations will last but she noted that the state relied too much on the COVAX mechanism, which kept on postponing the first shipments since January although the country timely paid 12 million dollars for vaccines.
“This is how it is, it is good that we launched the direct purchase, that the Government applied,” the minister said, adding that all efforts will be invested to have all citizens of BiH vaccinated.