The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Wednesday received a shipment of COVID-19 test kits and other medical supplies from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) against the second wave of the pandemic.
The medical items are meant to support the continued fight against the pandemic which continues to increase in West Africa, necessitating urgent essential medical supplies to strengthen national capacities to cope with increasing cases.
Valued at $14.16million, these medical supplies include 549,600 test kits containing sample collection items and reagents, to enhance the capacities of frontline responders providing care and treatment to people impacted by the virus as well as support the management of COVID-19 cases.
Also, another 550,000 Qiagen extraction kits were procured to increase testing capacity and early detection of the virus.
The supplies were handed over to ECOWAS at an event attended by high-ranking officials of the United Nations (UN), the West African Health Organization (WAHO) and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja.
Receiving the items, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Kassi Brou, said the items were part of the second batch of medical supplies from UNDP.
He acknowledged the role that solidarity, commitment and trust play in strengthening partnerships and ensuring that no one was left behind in the fight against the spread of the virus, Mr Brou said UNDP deserved commendation for its leadership, work and commitment of its staff for securing these critical medical supplies and equipment.
A first consignment of equipment had already been handed over to ECOWAS/West African Health Organization (WAHO) in May 2020 and distributed to Member States in the region.
The Assistant Secretary General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa,said: “We must rally all efforts to strengthen the capacity of ECOWAS Member States to stem increased infections and treat cases, so that countries of the region can get back to work on defeating poverty and attaining the global Sustainable Development Goals.”
Lauding the existing collaboration between the UNDP and the regional community Stanley Okolo, Director General of WAHO said: “We welcome this fantastic support from UNDP, which will go a long way towards strengthening the region’s capacity to respond to the ongoing second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is clear evidence, if any was needed, of UNDP’s commitment to supporting LMICs in dealing with the financial demands of procuring critically needed medical materials to fight the pandemic whilst at the same time, procuring vaccines in order to accelerate the reopening of our economies”.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities not only as a health crisis in the short term, but as a devastating social and economic crisis over the months and years to come.
UNDP has been supporting the pandemic response through risk communications and community engagement, infection prevention and control, epidemiology/surveillance and management of coronavirus cases.
In addition, UNDP supports income-generating opportunities for people whose livelihoods are most at risk through cash transfers and efforts to help restore supply chains disrupted by the crisis.