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

By February 26, 2020 April 1st, 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 a spirit of solidarity and cooperation, UNOSSC at both global and regional levels, has been actively assessing needs around the Global South, exploring and sourcing medical personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers information through partners networks, sharing of knowledge and best practices, and has been urging strong international solidarity and support among governments and people as it responds to the outbreak.

In this context, 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 mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective of the mapping is to provide a dynamic repository of solutions and ideas in addressing the outbreak and enabling countries to learn from one another through South-South knowledge exchange. The mapping also includes official donation platforms established by governments, where available. This will facilitate the scaling up of such good practices and efforts and allow countries of the South to adequately mitigate the risks of the pandemic ahead of time. Additionally, the mapping also 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

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.  Social media efforts were also utilized by UNOSSC to reach a wider audience.

Southern Countries Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

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

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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 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-site medical settings, and is now being used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, in light of the increasing demand to level up knowledge of the health workforce to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (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 front line health care providers in the country.

Henan Province Donates Medical Supplies to Luxembourg Response to COVID-19

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.

Further more, 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.

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

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 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.

Coronavirus Disease 2019

UNOSSC Asia-Pacific Stands with China

Information and Resources

Information is key for containing the spread of any virus. The United Nations is staying involved by providing real-time updates on the outbreak, inside China and beyond.

  • 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

Current Response and Lessons Learned from Previous Outbreaks

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