JUBA — Today, China Aid has donated more than 1.3 million items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to support ongoing efforts in curbing the spread of COVID-19 and other contagious diseases in South Sudan, the UNHCR has said.
Donated items included 1.1 million pairs of gloves, 70,000 disposable fluid-resistant gowns, 70,000 protective eye goggles, 70,000 N95 respiratory masks and 1,000 pairs of rubber boots.
The gear will protect more than 900 frontlines medical and support staff from secondary infections as they respond to and serve those affected at 17 primary health care centers/Units and two hospitals in the country’s Unity, Upper Nile, Western, and Central Equatoria States.
These facilities provide health and medical services to a total of 343,000 refugees, 80 per cent of whom are women and children, as well as more than 60,000 residents of host communities.
“Whether it is the COVID-19 virus, or any other infectious disease, prevention and good hygiene practices are vital to an effective response,” said Alemayehu Nigatu Gebremichael, UNHCR’s Public Health Officer in, South Sudan. “If there is any lesson learned from the Covid-19 global pandemic, it is that risk cannot be eliminated from systems, but rather must be constantly managed and treated. This donation makes that task easier,” he added.
While testing has not been widespread in the country, South Sudan has recorded 2,209 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and two deaths to date among the people that UNHCR serves. A strong COVID-19 preparedness and response established in refugee camps, with all key interventions, diagnostics, trainings, capacities, and coordination mechanism, has helped minimize transmission.
Speaking on the need for continued close cooperation in the global COVID-19 response, Juliette Murekeyisoni UNHCR’s Deputy Representative in South Sudan said, “People should not be comfortable that COVID has gone away. It is still living with us,” she said.
“What we should take away from this is how important it is that we continue to protect ourselves and those arounds us, most importantly refugees and displaced people, living in and outside the camps, and their hosts. This donation will help us to keep the people we serve safe,” she added.
With the support of the Embassy of China in South Sudan, UNHCR has prepositioned the PPE in specific locations ahead of the country’s rainy season that often disrupts access to deep field locations. The equipment has also been distributed to UNHCR operations in Jamjang, Maban, Yei-Lasu, Yambio, Gorom and Juba.
The handover ceremony of the donated items was attended by the councillor of the People’s Republic of China in South Sudan, and officials from the South Sudan Ministry of Health, the Commission for Refugee Affairs, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, as well as several humanitarian partners.
South Sudan hosts 343,000 refugees, mainly from Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as some 2 million people displaced internally by conflict and insecurity.