Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 January 2021:
Following a request from Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation in 2020 to meet the urgent needs of the country’s COVID-19 response, the UN has helped to arrange the shipment of one hundred thousand disposable face masks donated by Guo Kong Health Management Company Limited in China.
The consignment of face masks valued at over US$30, 000, was today presented to the Ministry of Health at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Riverside office in Freetown.
Presenting the face masks on behalf of the UN in Sierra Leone, the Resident Coordinator, Babatunde Ahonsi said that the donation is the result of South-South and Trilateral Cooperation (SSTC) between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Sierra Leone, built on multiple partnerships including the UN and the private sector in support of a national public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Babatunde Ahonsi spoke about the Sierra Leone government’s request for the much needed supplies, the facilitative role played by the UN including inter-country coordination (between UN Resident Coordinator Offices in China and Sierra Leone), and the philanthropy of Guo Kong Health Management Company, Ltd., with export facilitated by the Alibaba Foundation, the philanthropic wing of the Chinese multinational technology company, Alibaba Group Holding Company.
Ahonsi said that the multiple partnerships which enabled this SSTC action to be undertaken in meeting Sierra Leone’s response, continues to be needed as the country confronts the threats and challenges posed by ongoing second wave of the pandemic. He hoped that the donation would contribute immensely to meeting the needs of healthcare workers, given that according to official government figures, about one in every 10 COVID-19 cases in Sierra Leone is a health worker.
He also expressed hope that more in-kind donations can be arranged through South-South and Trilateral Cooperation to meet other important needs in the health sector. He emphasized the UN’s interest in facilitating such partnerships.
Receiving the donation on behalf of the government, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr Amara Jambai said, “it is these tools that give coverage to our healthcare workers to fight the virus.” He thanked the UN for answering to the call of their needs and the Chinese for the donation.” He also reiterated that they know what it takes to fight the virus, and that notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve not forgotten other aspects of healthcare delivery including malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. “You have made Sierra Leone. Be with us till the end, “he concluded.
In July last year, the Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health and Sanitation requested support from the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Sierra Leone in the form of 80,000 face masks that will be used in health care settings to sustain the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
WFP’s Humanitarian Hub in Guangzhou, China assisted in securing the shipment of the masks to Sierra Leone and other WFP agents supported transit of the cargo through several airports before arriving in Freetown.
It is good we worked with our international partners to help combat this covid19 pandemic. Boi’s government should really be focusing its attention on looking at ways to source the covid19 vaccine. Could be Russian, Pfizer, Chinese, Indian, whatever, as long as it is approved and gone through the process of research, development and approval by the World hHalth Organisation. This donation of PPE from China is welcome. China which is where it all started has proven how well they handle the virus. PPE is one of their weapons they deployed. Followed by what we now know as the Covid19 protocols. Hand washing, social distancing and wearing face mask. But knowing Bio’s government, lack of setting their priorities right, it should not act as an excuse to slow down the efforts to source the covid19 vaccine. The PPE is just for slowing down the spread of the virus, but not a cure.
Bio’s laid back attitude in sorting out our problems, will see the PPE as buying time. In the nutshell, sourcing the vaccine becomes an after-thought. It should not be. Right now keeping the nation healthy should be his priority. Vaccine nationalism is taking hold across the world. Countries like Canada have ordered more than they required. Effectively they have surplus to requirement. Hopefully once their population is vaccinated they will able to extend a hand of help to less fortunate countries like ours. The Russian vaccine the sputnik is one that is frowned at by the western media. The reality of course is that it is the only vaccine that was used on the twenty five Guinea nationals. As one former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said “I don’t care whether the cat is black, or white, as long as it can catch a mouse”.
That is the crucial part of the argument about the hoarding of the vaccine by the world’s advanced economies. Every country will work to inoculate their population, that is all well and good. The reality is we live in a global village. A virus that started in China at the end of 2019 is now affecting almost all countries around. Bottom line – no one is safe until everyone is safe. The New Yorker living in 5th avenue should not feel safe and take comfort they have the vaccine, until that man or woman in Calaba Town is inoculated.