UNICEF and European Union hand-over essential protective gear for Mozambican frontline health workers who fight COVID-19
Maputo, 29 May 2020 – Despite challenges to procure and ship vital supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF and the EU handed over essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) today to the Ministry of Health to support the government's response to the outbreak in Mozambique.
The 11 metric ton shipment of PPE, sent by UNICEF’s global supply division, arrived with a plane from Nairobitoday containing 134,000 surgical masks, 11,000 face shields, 30,000 coveralls, 192 non-contact thermometers and 600 protective googles.
The new Coronavirus is highly contagious and can be easily transmitted through direct contact, respiratory droplets like coughing, sneezing, and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. Therefore, the coveralls and face shields are the most significant element of this delivery, as they protect the frontline health workers from infection when they provide testing, engage in tracing of infection chains, and provide treatment, including intensive care for the sick.
“The safety of Mozambican health workers during the COVID-19 response is of paramount importance. Those brave men and women who tirelessly and with great personal risk and sacrifice engage in the fight against this pandemic deserve the best possible protection,” stressed Dr. Armindo Tiago, Minister of Health.
“The EU is confident that these supplies will ensure that doctors, paramedics and nurses stay safe and so can also keep the response running and effective,” added Antonio Sanchez-Benedito Gaspar, EU Ambassador to Mozambique. The EU launched a very ambitious COVID-19 global response, mobilizing more than €15 billion (20 billion including the European Investment Bank and Member States’ contributions) to support partners around the world. Mozambique will benefit from a package of €110 million, aimed at addressing immediate health sector needs and the medium-term economic impact of the pandemic.
The speed and scale of how the new Coronavirus outbreak is spreading around the world has put pressure on markets and put unprecedented challenges to UNICEF supply operations. Restrictions on international transport are also having a severe negative impact on freight operations globally – disrupting supply chains and causing bottlenecks, delays and higher costs in the delivery of lifesaving supplies for humanitarian and development programmes.
In this light, the procurement of PPE supplies for Mozambique has been a great success and UNICEF, as the world-leading supply agency for the COVID-19 response, has surmounted the challenge by decentralizing supply stocks and creating new partnerships with the public and private sector.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Mozambique in March, UNICEF is working in close collaboration with WHO and other partners to support the Mozambican Government to respond to the pandemic through procurement of supplies, risk communications and community engagement, upgrading health facilities, infection prevention and control, epidemiology/surveillance and management of coronavirus cases.
“This shipment is important as it helps to tackle the direct health risks, infection prevention and control aspects of COVID-19. We are, however, also very concerned about the significant secondary health impact this crisis will have on children because of interruptions of regular essential maternal, new-born, and child health services” said Katarina Johansson, UNICEF Representative a.i. in Mozambique. “In this serious situation, it is reassuring to us that we can count on the ongoing and consistent support from the EU and other partners to tackle this crisis.”
Djamila Cabral, WHO Representative in Mozambique added: “Protecting healthcare workers and strengthening the capacities of the health care system to respond to this pandemic is a top priority. With these crucial supplies, we are moving an important step forward in the Government’s response, and it will be necessary for all partners in the health sector to ensure equal access for the entire population to diagnostics, treatment and a potential vaccine once it is developed.”
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.mz.