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Lesotho receives more equipment from UN

UN resident coordinator in Lesotho Salvatore Niyonzima

Aug. 27, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU - The United Nations (UN) resident coordinator Salvatore Niyonzima has called on all hands to come together if Lesotho is to win against COVID-19. He said the pandemic represents the most difficult challenge to human life and livelihoods which started as a health crisis before turning into a social as well as economic crisis.

To prevent and take precautions against the spread of the disease, Lesotho went into lockdown in March. Long before the first case was recorded in the country, people were already feeling its negative impact on many fronts including the negative effects on business and trade. Niyonzima commended the government for being proactive and taking early measures to contain the spread of the virus in Lesotho.

He however also noted that in reality, the pandemic is far from over. Since Lesotho recorded its COVID-19 first case in May, the country has, to date, registered 1 015 cases, 526 recoveries, and 31 deaths.

With new cases still rising in the country, this is the time for all to work closely together, Niyonzima appealed. “This is the time when we need all hands on deck to respond to the health crisis and also to plan recovery together,” he noted at the handing over ceremony of the new equipment and PPE in Maseru on Tuesday.

He said the UN, the World Bank, and many other partners have been working hand in hand with the Lesotho government to respond to the crisis. He added: “We are here to witness the type of cooperation and solidarity which should take place within and between countries and organizations.

Today we are delighted to hand over COVID-19 diagnostics equipment, personal protective equipment, and critical care equipment from various UN agencies. I am pleased to be here with my colleagues from the UN.” This collective contribution comes from WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, the UN Technology Bank, and the World Bank. It comprises two PCR machines, two laboratory glove safety boxes, 54 oxygen concentrators, and PPEs for an estimated value of $500,000 (approximately M8.4 million).

WHO and the UN provided 54 oxygen concentrators; the UN Technology Bank facilitated a donation of 100,000 face masks from the World Eco-Design Conference, the World Bank and UNFPA provided PPEs; and UNICEF facilitated the procurement and clearing of the consignments.

Niyonzima said as the number of COVID-19 patients increases, the need for critical care equipment has also risen in the hospitals.

He said the above equipment will allow for critical care to be provided in the ICU centers and district facilities, while also helping to alleviate challenges encountered in the management of people with life-threatening medical problems. The PCR machines will enable more testing for the diseases to be done in Lesotho without having to send samples abroad and ensure that individuals get their test results in good time. 

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The PCR machines are capable of testing COVID-19 including other pathogens that can adversely impact the health of the population, Nyionzima also explained. On behalf of the government, the Minister of Health Motlatsi Maqelepo thanked all partners involved in getting the essential equipment for the government.

He said the contribution will go a long way in ensuring that Lesotho is well placed to adequately respond to COVID-19, adding he was certain that the equipment will ease the load and save a lot of lives. UN aims at providing commodities to assist in the equipping of health facilities and laboratories for the benefit of the Basotho. In the longer term, the UN system in Lesotho hopes this will help strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to future public health emergencies, working together with the government on all fronts.

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