6 August, New York – Under the mobilization and coordination of the UNOSSC and its Cities Project team in Beijing, 2,000 disposable sterile masks donated by the China Association of Trade in Services (CATIS) were delivered to the Koidu-New Sembehun City Council in Sierra Leone to support the city’s COVID-19 responses. The City Council held a “symbolic” ceremony to hand over the masks to frontline health workers.
Alerts of suspicious cases in the Kono district, which includes its capital Koidu, emerged in early March and the first confirmed case was reported on 20 May 2020. Moving into June, Kono has increasingly become a potential epicenter of COVID-19 in the country. As of 16 June, 133 suspicious cases and 37 confirmed cases have been reported including 17 severe cases. Fears of a community spread following six deaths and active transmissions among health workers have been reported.
Koidu was severely affected by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014 and provided patients with early medical care through its Ebola treatment centre, which was considered critical to the full recovery of many patients.
In April 2020, project partner Koidu-New Sembehun City expressed their COVID-19 needs and priorities to the team of UNOSSC Cities Project (South-South and Triangular Cooperation among Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities for Sustainable Development Project), with a detailed list of needed medical devices and personal protective equipment (PPE).
On receiving the detailed list, CATIS pledged a donation of 2,000 face masks and offered to ship these masks from Beijing to Koidu.
In consultation with stakeholders, Koidu-New Sembehun City Coucil (KNSCC) decided to allocate these masks to the District Health Management Team (DHMT) and the government hospital to be used by frontline health workers.
Mayor Mr. Komba Sam delivered a speech on behalf of KNSCC at the hand-over ceremony, which was attended by nurses and medical officers. He acknowledged the support from CATIS and UNOSSC, noting the demand-driven needs assessment for the city by the UNOSSC Cities Project team in 2019.
Mr. Guofeng Tian, Executive Deputy Secretary-General of the China Association of Trade in Services, was pleased to see these masks delivered to Koidu made possible by coordination efforts of the Cities Project team and KNSCC. “Love has no national borders,” said Mr. Tian. “We feel proud to be able to lend a helping hand to Koidu and hope that Sierra Leone and its people can surmount the challenges caused by COVID-19 as soon as possible.”
CATIS is a national industry association with more than 2,000 members, including local governments, private sector companies, and think tanks. In the areas of South-South cooperation, CATIS has organized numerous training programs that have benefited thousands of people from developing countries. In 2019, CATIS organized a training program on cross-border e-commerce with the support of the Cities Project, for Belt and Road countries, including 21 developing countries. A new webinar series entitled “South-South and Triangular Cooperation among Cities On Cross-Border E-Commerce For Sustainable Development” jointly organized by CATIS and the Cities Project will be launched in August 2020.
At the request of KNSCC, a one-week mission was organized by the Cities Project team in November 2019 for needs assessment on agriculture, mining, waste management, and road infrastructures by experts from four UN agencies and city governments. A pilot project is being formulated by the Cities Project team to help address challenges identified through the assessment.