UNICEF procures $5million worth of supplies since COVID-19 outbreak
By Charles Lotara
The United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says it has procured and distributed supplies worth 5million USD to help contain the spread of the coronavirus since its outbreak in South Sudan in April this year.
In a statement published Tuesday last week, the organization says the supplies made available to the people of South Sudan since the onset of COVID-19 include personal protective equipment for frontline health workers, and pharmaceuticals to treat symptoms among infected people.
UNICEF says it has also supplied water, sanitation and hygiene commodities to prevent and control infections among households and in health facilities, as well as information, communication and educational materials to sensitize and engage local communities on preventive public health measures.
Dr. Mohamed Ayoya, the UNICEF Representative in South Sudan lamented the difficulties posed by the coronavirus, which jeopardized the operation of the company. Ayoya thanked humanitarian partners that helped UNICEF achieve a mission that seemed impossible.
“From supply shortages to transport constraints, COVID-19 has brought enormous challenges to our supply operations. However, with support from our partners, we were able to meet the most pressing needs and to deliver the supplies crucial for our COVID-19 response,” he said.
UNICEF has so far shipped gloves, tunics, surgical masks, boots, and sanitizer for use and personal protective equipment worth 810,000 USD.
Figuratively, and to help with the case management of infected people, the organization procured 40 oxygen concentrators, 3000 clinical thermometers, 100,000 packs of paracetamol, and 8,000 packs of oral rehydration salts for home-based symptomatic treatment for people with mild symptoms.
As prevention remains the most effective strategy to avoid the spread of the disease, UNICEF has distributed nearly 50,000 face masks and continues to focus a major part of its supplies into producing and distributing banners, posters, leaflets and stickers with preventive messages. UNICEF has already produced and distributed throughout the country 1 million A4 posters with key messages in English and in different local languages.
To ensure the quick production and dissemination of key information, communication and education materials and to reduce freight costs, UNICEF has favored production inside the country, including, most recently, 120,000 posters and leaflets on the proper use of face masks.
The engagement of local communities is crucial in containing the disease. To aid this, UNICEF procured 3,000 megaphones for social mobilisers who inform local communities about COVID-19 and distributed 750,000 bars of soap to promote hand washing within the communities.
“Supplies are essential for any humanitarian response to be effective”, said Dr Ayoya. “In the COVID-19 response we have set up with our partners and donors, our long-standing experience in South Sudan in procurement and distribution of supplies has proven to be an important asset. It allowed us to respond quickly and effectively to the specific challenges raised by the virus.”
The World Bank has partnered with UNICEF South Sudan for the COVID-19 response. In addition, UNICEF South Sudan has received financial support from UKAid, USAID, Japan and UNICEF’s Global Thematic Funding.