The African Union Member States will soon receive further medical supplies for their COVID-19 response after the arrival of the third batch from the Jack Ma Foundation, with the first and the second consignments having arrived on 22nd March and 6th April consecutively.
The supplies, weighing 125 tonnes, consist of 4.6 million single use surgical masks, 500 000 civilian use KN95 masks: 100 000 medical grade N95 masks: 200,000 pieces of protective clothing: 200,000 face shields: 2,000 thermometer guns: 500,000 medical gloves: 300 ventilators: 500,000 each of swabs, extraction and detection tests: and 100 infrared thermo detection machines.
The supplies were received by the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission Ambassador Kwesi Quartey, accompanied by the Commissioner of Social Affairs Mrs Amira El Fadil, the South African Ambassador to Ethiopia and Chairperson of the Permanent Representative Committee of the African Union Mr Edward Xolisa Makaya, and the AfricaCDC Director Dr John Nkengasong. The ceremony was also attended by the Ethiopian Minister of Health Dr Lea Tadesse, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Degu Andargachew, Dr Shumete Gizaw, representing the Office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and the Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines Mr Tewolde GebreMariam.
”COVID19 has brought the AU a very challenging situation but the Union has risen up to it through integration, unity and collaboration. We are going to transport the equipment to the various hubs across the continent,” said African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Ambassador Kwesi Quartey.
Ambassador Quartey also commended Africa’s private industry for rising up to the challenge. ”We are already seeing the manufacture of face masks of a dollar each, ventilators and other necessary equipment. As we collaborate more, we can meet all the challenges that the continent is faced with. It is integration that makes Africa a force in the international community,” he added.
”This third donation came after negotiation between the AfricaCDC and the Jack Ma Foundation officials, and also after a telephone conversation between the African Union Commission Chairperson Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat and Mr Jack Ma. As the AU, we are identifying and projecting the needs of our member states and we are doing pool procurement for the medical equipment needed for Africa,” said the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Mrs Amira El Fadil.
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention commented, ”The supplies we have just received are going to be extremely important in supporting our efforts across the three pillars that we are engaged in i.e. to help prevent transmission of COVID-19, and to prevent deaths and harm in our community.”
Dr Lea Tadesse, Ethiopian Minister of Health recalled that the donations started as an initiative of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Mr Abiy Ahmed and Mr Jack Ma. She appreciated the value of global solidarity in the COVID-19 response, adding that today’s donations are testimony of such solidarity.