The first United Nations “solidarity flight” carrying medical cargo crucial to containing the spread of Covid-19 left Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Tuesday for Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar. He was to go this Wednesday to Djibouti and Kenya.
World Health Organization (WHO) cargo is transported by the World Food Program (WFP) and includes protective masks and goggles, gloves, gowns, medical aprons, thermometers and ventilators.
“Commercial flights are suspended and medical cargo is blocked. We can stop this virus in its tracks, but we have to work together, ”said David Beasley, WFP Executive Director. “To do this, our airlifts must be fully maintained, and we are ready to transport medical and humanitarian personnel as well as medical cargo,” he added.
One million masks and personal protective equipment
WHO’s crucial cargo includes one million masks, as well as personal protective equipment. This material will be enough to protect healthcare workers while treating more than 30,000 patients across the continent, and laboratory supplies to support surveillance and screening.
The shipment also contains a large amount of medical supplies donated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Jack Ma Foundation initiative to roll back the spread of Covid-19 in Africa. The African Union, through the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), provides technical support and coordinates the distribution of materials.
“The solidarity flight is part of a larger effort to send vital medical supplies to 95 countries,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. He thanked all the partners for their solidarity with African countries “at this critical moment in history”.
For his part, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, Director of the WHO Regional Office for Africa, recalls the risks run by health personnel who are often “victims of infectious diseases while they work in hospitals and that they are there. sometimes die. ” This is unacceptable. This personal protective equipment will contribute to their safety. WHO is committed to protecting those on the front lines of health care, ”noted Dr Moeti.
More than 15,000 cases and 815 deaths recorded in Africa
For the African Union, medical supplies are particularly needed “at this critical time when medical products are in short supply around the world”. “The African Union will continue to provide the necessary coordination as well as the resources for our Member States to be able to meet the health service needs during this pandemic,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the Commission of the United Nations. African Union.
The Addis Ababa platform is one of eight global humanitarian platforms set up to facilitate the delivery of aid in the fight against Covid-19, according to WFP.
WFP also ensures cargo monitoring and warehouse management, in collaboration with Africa CDC. “Medical supplies are coming at the right time, as the continent still has a chance to fight the Covic-19 pandemic. Collective and swift actions, such as ‘solidarity theft’, are therefore essential, ”said John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
As part of the global appeal for $ 2 billion launched by the United Nations on March 25, WFP is asking for $ 350 million to establish vital humanitarian centers around the world to facilitate the storage and shipment of essential medical freight. Currently, WFP has received only 24% ($ 84 million) of the requested $ 350 million.
The African continent has so far not been hit by the coronavirus as badly as other parts of the world. And Tuesday, more than 15,000 cases having killed 815 had been identified on the continent, according to the regional office of WHO for Africa.