UNOSSC in Action in Response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

By April 3, 2020 July 22nd, 2020 News

Background

Since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) has remained active in lending assistance to its partners. In the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, UNOSSC at both global and regional levels, has been actively assessing needs in the Global South, facilitating connections, including sourcing medical personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers information through partners networks, sharing knowledge and best practices, and  urging strong international solidarity and support among governments and people as we respond to the outbreak.

UNOSSC Webinars: South-South Cooperation in Response to COVID-19

In this context, UNOSSC has been organizing a series of webinars in partnership with its partners in order to promote the sharing of experiences and emerging lessons learned from different countries as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The webinars focus on specific issues precipitated or accelerated by the pandemic, and highlight opportunities for South-South and Triangular Cooperation and knowledge sharing. For more information, please click here.

India-UN Development Partnership Fund in Response to COVID-19

The India-UN Development Partnership Fund, managed by UNOSSC, is working rapidly to support projects that aim to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in many different countries in the Global South. The Fund is supporting projects that focus on a wide range of issues, including increasing national healthcare capacities, reducing risk of transmission, mitigating socio-economic impact and catalyzing transformative recovery. For details on recently approved initiatives of the Fund, including its Commonwealth window, please click here.

Click here to explore the mapping on the COVID-19 responses.

Southern Countries Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

UNOSSC conducted a mapping on South-South Galaxy of responses and efforts of health authorities, mainly the Ministries of Health across countries of the global South, to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective of the mapping is to provide a dynamic repository of efforts in addressing the pandemic and enable countries to quickly access information, compare practices, and learn from one another through South-South knowledge exchanges.  The mapping also includes official donation platforms established by governments, where available. This will facilitate the scaling up of efforts and allow countries of the South to adequately mitigate the risks of the pandemic ahead of time. Additionally, the mapping includes examples of sub-regional, regional and interregional organizations that are serving as important platforms for coordinating South-South cooperation efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNOSSC Newsletter - Special Edition

Since early February, South-South Galaxy has been sharing knowledge products and experiences in epidemic responses, both to the current COVID-19, and to previous pandemics such as H1N1 and Zika.  Digital outreach efforts were utilized to reach a wider audience. Some of those insights have been compiled in a special edition newsletter, which highlights some of the important work that has been done by the UNOSSC and other partner organizations.

A participant learning through eLearning for Health platform supported by IBSA Fund (Photo WHO)

IBSA Fund-Supported Healthcare eLearning Platform in Viet Nam used in response to COVID-19

The India, Brazil and South Africa Facility and Poverty Alleviation, the IBSA Fund supported the “Innovative e-Learning Approach for Health Project” which has improved health care coverage and quality in the Northern Coastal region of Viet Nam. The project has been successful in reaching health care workers in remote medical settings and is now being used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the increasing demand to level up knowledge of the health workforce to respond to the outbreak, WHO and Hai Phong University of Medicine and Pharmacy (HPMU) are jointly enhancing the eLearning platform by adding online training modules on COVID-19 developed by WHO, in areas such as clinical care for severe acute respiratory infections. The modules are translated into Vietnamese to increase the reach of the training course to frontline healthcare providers in the country.

Henan Province Donates Medical Supplies to Luxembourg

On 22 March, Henan Province of China donated urgently-needed medical supplies to its “Air Silk Road” partner Luxembourg. These included 4,500 locally-sourced medical protective suits, 500,000 surgical masks, 5,700 N95 masks, 100,000 pairs of medical gloves, 600 forehead thermometers, 20,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, and 1,080 pairs of medical goggles. These medical supplies were collectively donated by the Government and state-owned enterprises (SOE) of Henan Province, and shipped to Luxembourg by the Cargolux Airlines International, free of any charges, with the assistance of Henan Civil Aviation Development and Investment Co., Ltd (HNCA). The Government of Henan Province, UNOSSC and the Finance Centre for South-South Cooperation (FCSSC) jointly announced the “Air Silk Road South-South Cooperation Partnership Alliance” during the 2nd Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum in 2019.

“Friendship has no national boundaries; friendship makes long distance short”, reads the packaging of donations to Luxembourg. Image by HNCA

Mr. Jorge Chediek is interviewed by the People's Daily

Furthermore, the People’s Daily published an interview with UNOSSC Director and Envoy of the Secretary-General on South-South Cooperation, Mr. Jorge Chediek, who emphasized the strong commitment to working with partners to continue strengthening the global responses and help mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic through the South-South Facility for Poverty Eradication.

Quanzhou Donates Surgical Masks to Partners in Isfahan, Iran

Since the end of February, the UNOSSC regional team in Asia and Pacific has been working with the UN RC office in Iran to strengthen its capacity for need assessment on the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic to the country. On 29 February, in view of the global spread of the epidemic, UNOSSC partner for the Cities SSTC project — Maritime-Continental Silk Road Cities Alliance Business Council — a Quanzhou City based NGO, launched a call for donations of medical supplies and PPEs. In March, over 80,000 surgical masks manufactured in the Quanzhou City of China have been pledged and shipped to Isfahan, Iran.

Medical Supplies Delivered to Wuhan and Yuxi

After receiving the urgent request for medical supplies from a project partner in China on 6 February, following consultations with the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, UNOSSC reached out to the United Nations Resident Coordinator (UNRC) in China, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in China, and the World Food Programme (WFP) Centre of Excellence in China for advice on applicable procurement channels.

Through the Call for Action promoted on South-South Galaxy in partnership with the FCSSC, 15 urgently needed non-invasive respirators and 1,000 medical protective suits worth $100,000 were procured through UNDP China.

Respirators are crucial to the treatment of patients whose conditions are severe, and medical protective suits remain the most difficult items to source. Thanks to the Government’s fast-track logistic channels, on 22 February all the respirators arrived in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province. On 24 February, 150 protective suits also reached the city of Yuxi.  The remaining suits were dispatched in March.  To learn more, read the Cities in Solidarity Newsletter.

Information and Resources

Information is key for containing the spread of any virus. The United Nations is providing real-time updates on the pandemic on an ongoing basis.

  • WHO and the entire UN System are engaged in efforts to support governments at the epicenter of the pandemic, and prevent further escalation of the situation. For real-time updates, please click here
  • The UN News website is also posting the latest news and reports on the outbreak. You can find more by clicking here.
  • Download WHO’s COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan by clicking here
  • Access PAHO/WHO Guidelines and Recommendations on Influenza  by clicking here

COVID-19 Pandemic

UNOSSC Asia-Pacific Stands with China

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