ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has urged the private sector and philanthropic organizations to join in the current fight against coronavirus pandemic in Africa.
Abiy said this after the first batch of protective and medical equipment donated by Chinese billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma was flown into Addis Ababa on Sunday.
About 1,198 cases have now been reported across the continent, according to the regional Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
There are also concerns that the continent will not be able to handle a surge in cases without the depth of medical facilities.
The existing epidemic diseases such as HIV/Aids, and emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola could make COVID-19 “a huge threat”, Prime Minister Abiy said.
Abiy said, “Africa and the world need to act collectively in solidarity to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, which poses a severe global social, economic and security threat”.
He urged “private and philanthropic organizations and partners to reunite for such solidarity”, and expressed his country’s sincere appreciation for the Jack Ma and his foundation for the generous support and partnership to reverse COVID-19 from Africa.
Today’s shipment is a much-needed boost to African healthcare systems that were already stretched before the coronavirus crisis, but nations will still need to ration supplies at a time of global scarcity.
Only patients showing symptoms will be tested, Africa CDC said.
Ethiopian airlines together with Africa CDC and World Food Program have already taken the initiative to distribute the testing kits and other items to the different African countries.
“The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement.
“The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”
The statement also said more supplies will be sent to Ethiopia in the coming weeks.
Coronavirus has claimed 37 lives across in Africa while 108 patients have recovered after contracting the virus.