ADDIS ABABA-- The third round of Jack Ma COVID-19 medical supplies that landed in Addis Ababa on Monday evening is literally a lifesaver, an official at the Africa Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC) said on Tuesday.
"Getting diagnostics and medical equipment for COVID-19 response is a global challenge. Africa is in a fierce competition with the developed world with respect to the availability of commodities," said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC.
A ceremony was held on Monday evening to welcome a third-round donation of medical equipment and supplies from the Jack Ma foundation and Alibaba foundation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Speaking at the sidelines of the ceremony, Lia Tadesse, Ethiopia's Minister of Health is feeling confident her country will overcome the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic that has created global economic and social havoc.
The east African country has in the past one and half month expanded its COVID-19 testing capacity and supplied COVID-19 medical supplies to its population with the help of various partners including the Jack Ma Foundation and the Chinese government.
"The Jack Ma foundation is proactively helping Ethiopia with the donation of COVID-19 medical supplies including Personal Protective Equipments (PPE)," Tadesse told a group of Journalists on Monday evening.
The donation, which is to support COVID-19 response of African Union (AU) member States, includes 4.6 million masks, 500,000 swabs and test kits, 300 ventilators, 200,000 sets of protective clothing, 200,000 face shields, 2,000 temperature guns, 100 body temperature scanners, and 500,000 pairs of gloves.
"The Ethiopia Ministry of Health has been expanding its readiness in terms of boosting human resources, training, stockpiles of essential supplies. This donation goes a long way to achieve that goal," said the health minister.
"The Chinese government and Jack Ma foundation have been strongly assisting us to acquire PPE supplies, medical ventilators and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds," said Tadesse.
"Jack Ma foundation COVID-19 donation a lifesaver," said Tadesse.
Ethiopia which confirmed its first COVID-19 case on March 13, currently has a total of 124 COVID-19 confirmed cases as of Tuesday.
"These donations from the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have been an incredible initiative helping to feed the need for medical supplies by African countries," said Nkengasong.
The Africa CDC director also said global partnership is key to winning the war against COVID-19, with the Jack Ma foundation playing a key role in the African continent.
"Partnership is key to winning the war against COVID-19. In our strategy we have highlighted four things: cooperation, collaboration, coordination and communication," said the director.
If we do not want Africa to be the next epicenter, we must foster multisectoral partnerships at the community level, at the national level, at the continental level, and at the global level. This important collaboration is a major milestone in achieving this," said Nkengasong.
According to Africa CDC, the death toll from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the African continent has reached 1,423 as the number of confirmed positive cases reached 31,933 as of Monday.
The Jack Ma foundation has already successfully provided two rounds of COVID-19 medical supplies to the 54 African countries, with Ethiopia's national air carrier Ethiopian Airlines (ET) playing a key role.
Speaking to journalists on Monday, Fitsum Abadi, Managing Director, Ethiopian Airlines Cargo section, said Ethiopian Airlines has finished preparation to utilize its extensive flight network in the African continent to deliver the third round Jack Ma COVID-19 medical supplies donation.
Ethiopian Airlines has already successfully transported the first and second batch of Jack Ma COVID-19 medical supplies donation consisting of combined 260 tons of medical supplies to several dozen African countries.
"ET has expanded cargo operations to offset the loss from reduction in passenger flights," said Abadi.
"We've repurposed some of our passenger planes to cargo planes to in part to conduct COVID-19 related chartered flights to European, Middle eastern and South American destinations," said Abadi.