The World Health Organization has worked closely with the World Food Programme, the African Union, national governments and the Jack Ma foundation to make sure that front line health workers in Africa receive essential supplies.
This was disclosed on Thursday April 16, 2020, by Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
“In the past two days eight countries have received medical equipment,” he said.
He added that essential items such as face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks, medical aprons and thermometers, as well as more than 400 ventilators, have been supplied to African countries.
Dr Moeti said, “Eleven out of 17 countries with more than 100 cases of COVID-19 are in West and Central Africa.”
“We are working with the governments to better understand what is happening on the ground, but this is worrisome as countries in these subregions often have particularly fragile health systems.
“For countries to ramp up testing, tracing and treatment capacity, they need supplies and solidarity. There is enough personal protective equipment in this shipment to allow health workers from across Africa to treat 30 000 patients without putting themselves at risk. This equipment will keep them safe and let them focus on saving lives,” he added.
He further stated that the cargo flights demonstrate the power of international co-operation and collective action.
While South Africa has sub-Saharan Africa’s most severe outbreak, West and Central Africa are of growing concern.
Cameroon has confirmed more than 800 cases, while Niger, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea have reported a rapid rise in numbers during the past week.
With several borders closed and flights cancelled, ensuring countries receive deliveries of much-needed medical equipment has become increasingly difficult.
WHO has thus called for humanitarian corridors and this week’s ‘Solidarity Flights’ are delivering essential supplies to every country in Africa.
WHO is working with many partners to respond to COVID-19. The organization has held a virtual press conference with Dr Moeti, Dr Simon Missiri, Regional Director for Africa, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa, World Economic Forum.
Just over two months since COVID-19 was first detected in Africa, the disease has now spread to nearly every country, resulting in nearly 17 000 confirmed cases and around 900 deaths across the continent.