The World Health Organization continues to expend its strategic technical expertise support to include logistical and operational support to the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to respond to COCID-19 pandemic. This was demonstrated with the recent donation of COVID-19 response supplies and equipment worth more than 600,000 US Dollars. The consignment, which were officially handed over to the Minister of Health and Sanitation by the WHO Representative on 4 September 2020 included 204 oxygen concentrators, one medical ambulance, 5000 Nucleic Acid Extraction Kits, 6000 Collection Tubes, and many other essential COVID-19 and none COVID-19 related medical supplies. The aim of the donation is to scale up the capacity of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to respond to the pandemic and essential routine health services.
While receiving the package, the Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Alpha Wurie expressed appreciation to WHO and partners for the donation, noting that Sierra Leone as a country has made tremendous gains in the fight against COVID-19. "The gains we have made are the result of the high-level political commitment and the government-wide approach that we took in addition to the support from our partners in the preparedness, readiness and in responding to the outbreak".
As the country has recorded over 2000 cases and 71 deaths to date from COVID-19, the WHO country office continues to engage its partners to mobilize resources and support the health sector in Sierra Leone to stop the spread of the virus, prevent adverse effect on the delivery of routine health service and to strengthen local capacity for response.
With funds from the African Development Bank (ADB), the WHO Country Office in Sierra Leone was able to procure the fully equipped Land Cruiser Ambulance for the response. Meanwhile, the Country Office was also able to mobilize funds from its headquarters in Geneva and regional office in Brazzaville to procure much needed COVID-19 medical supplies and other essential emergency kits for the country.
"With a protracted emergency like COVID-19, it is important that the government and its response structures have the essential support to tackle this disease and that is what this donation, of the assorted supplies and equipment aims to achieve - maintain a high confidence level to respond. WHO will continue to mobilize resources, reach out to other partners to do the same and encourage a stronger collaboration among partners to keep the outbreak under control", says Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative in Sierra Leone.
Reinforcing WHO's commitment to support the government's response to COVID-19, the WHO Rep said "until we are out of this COVID-19 pandemic we will not rest as an organization. We will continue to explore every possible means and we will continue to encourage other partners to support the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to build a resilient system for effective emergency response and universal health service delivery".
WHO has made series of other donations to the country since the onset of the pandemic. In addition to the logistical support, WHO is providing technical support in all the areas of the response including case management, risk communications, surveillance and laboratory pillars among others. The Organization also repurposed some of its staff from polio, essential health service, to support the emergency response to COVID-19.
"As we continue to make progress against COVID-19, WHO will continue to support Sierra Leone with the right tools and skills to help strengthen the health system with the right capacity to mitigate the adverse effect of emergencies such as COVID. Our support is also geared towards ensuring the system is built back better as recommended by the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction", says Dr Charles Njuguna, Health Security and Emergencies Lead at the WHO Country Office in Sierra Leone.