The first United Nations “Solidarity Flight” is scheduled to leave Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today – from there, the aircraft will transport the vital medical cargo to all countries in Africa, where supplies are desperately needed to contain the spread of COVID-19. WHO cargo is being transported by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and includes face shields, gloves, goggles, gowns, masks, medical aprons and thermometers, as well as ventilators. The cargo also includes a large quantity of medical supplies donated by the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Jack Ma Foundation Initiative to reverse COVID-19 in Africa. The African Union, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is providing technical support and coordination for the distribution of the supplies. “Commercial flights are grounded and medical cargo is stuck. We can stop this virus in its tracks, but we’ve got to work together. WFP is committed to getting vital medical supplies to front lines and shielding medical workers as they save lives,” said David Beasley, WFP’s Executive Director. “Our air bridges need to be fully funded to do this, and we stand ready to transport frontline health and humanitarian workers as well as medical cargo,” he added. “The Solidarity Flight is part of a larger effort to ship lifesaving medical supplies to 95 countries,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “I would like thank the African Union, the governments of UAE and Ethiopia, the Jack Ma Foundation and all our partners for their solidarity with African countries at this critical moment in history.” The crucial WHO cargo includes one million face masks, as well as personal protective equipment, which will be enough to protect health workers while treating more than 30 000 patients across the continent and laboratory supplies to support surveillance and detection. “The African Union values the efforts of our partners – the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, the Jack Ma Foundation/Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – in supporting the African continental strategy for COVID-19 response. The medical supplies are much needed at this critical time that medical commodities are in short supply worldwide,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. “The African Union will continue to provide the coordination needed as well as resources to ensure that our Member States are able to meet the need for healthcare services during this pandemic,” he added. “We have seen time and again our health workers fall victim to infectious diseases as they work in hospitals and sometimes pass away,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “This is unacceptable. This personal protective equipment will help keep them safe. WHO is committed to protecting those on the front-lines of health care.” WHO’s logistics hub in Dubai, staffed by a team of seven, has been working around the clock to dispatch over 130 shipments of PPE and laboratory supplies to 95 countries across all six WHO regions. “Thanks to the Government of the United Arab Emirates for its generous […]

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