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.