KATHMANDU: As Nepal struggles to combat the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, a whole host of countries has stepped forward to support the Himalayan country with the vaccine, medical equipment, and supplies.
With the mantra that its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic does not stop at its borders, the United States, the European Union, India, China, among others have been actively supporting Nepal as it battles the pandemic.
It means that the international community is seeing a distinct picture of exactly how seriously Nepal is combatting the Covid-19 crisis.
Health supplies from EU member states, including Finland, France, and Germany; the United States, India, China, among others have already been handed over to the Government of Nepal. Spain and Belgium, too, have offered support to Nepal.
The US, too, has announced it is providing COVID-19 vaccines and relief supplies to Nepal.
US Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry said, “I join my fellow Americans and all friends of Nepal, in celebrating the White House announcement that Nepal will be among the countries to receive direct vaccine donations from the United States.”
Meanwhile, since the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. Department of Defense has provided nearly $3.1 million for urgently needed medical equipment and supplies, Anna Richey-Allen, Spokesperson at the US Embassy in Nepal told Khabarhub.
As many as 100 ventilators and 10,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) have has also been provided by the US government.
The US Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), had earlier announced an additional $8.5 million in emergency response funding to combat the disease and to support the Nepali people.
So far, the US Government has provided total assistance of $36.8 million to Nepal against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Nepal, Nona Deprez told Khabarhub that the EU was committed to supporting Nepal in its fight against the pandemic.
She labeled the support as a real effect of “Team Europe” – an initiative that the EU launched on 8 April 2020 to confront the unprecedented global crisis by coordinating support to partner countries in emergency humanitarian needs linked to the pandemic.
Likewise, as part of ongoing cooperation between Germany and Nepal to contain its rapid surge in COVID-19 infections, Germany supported Nepal with 112 ventilators, 2,068,500 K95 masks, 29,000 pulse oximeters, 34,030,000 surgical masks, 5 isolation center tents, 400 gumboots, 25,000 liters hand disinfectants, and others items, which landed in Kathmandu on June 8.
German Ambassador to Nepal, Roland Schafer, handed over the consignment to Sher Bahadur Tamang, Minister for Health and Population, at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
Talking to Khabarhub at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Tuesday, German Ambassador Roland Schafer said, “This German support is part of a bigger European effort. I am grateful to the European Civil Protection Mechanism for ensuring coordination amongst all EU Members States and for organizing our transport logistics.”
He expressed his confidence that here in Nepal, through the Nepali tracking system eLMIS, the equipment will reach the places in the country where they are really needed.
“We also need more vaccines, to make us all safe. The EU has already exported 240 million doses to 90 countries, which is about as much as we have used within the EU,” he said.
The German Ambassador also said that the European industrial partners have committed to deliver 1.3 billion doses of vaccines before the end of 2021 to low-income countries at no-profit and to middle-income countries at lower prices.
“This is the real effect of “Team Europe”. Nepal should be able to receive or purchase its share of vaccines by the end of the year”, he added.
The shipment from Germany is facilitated through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in response to the Government of Nepal’s call for support.
The government of France, too, supported Nepal in its combat to the COVID-19 surge.
French Ambassador to Nepal, Francois-Xavier LEGER on last week handed over 7 tons of humanitarian cargo consisting of relief equipment to the government of Nepal.
The materials – masks, antigen test kits, respirators/ventilators, and visors were delivered by an Airbus A350 which was put in place by the Airbus Foundation as a courtesy.
The health supplies included 504,000 FFP2 masks, 20,225 Antigen test kits, 12,000 protection glasses, and 14 respirator masks.
Speaking to Khabarhub at the TIA, French Ambassador LEGER said, “France stands by the side with Nepal in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.”
He added that a global solution and cooperation are required to combat the current crisis, and France, along with other EU member states, is committed to helping Nepal and the Nepal population to fight the crisis.
Similarly, a shipment from Finland carrying urgently needed protective supplies arrived in Nepal last week, following the country’s request to the EU for assistance to contain its rapid surge in COVID-19 infections.
The shipment comprised 2,498,540 surgical masks, 164,500 vinyl gloves, 26,000 gowns, 349,920 KN95 masks and 288,000 face shields.
The Finnish assistance package contains 3,326,960 items (around 30t) in total.
Pertti Anttinen, Ambassador of Finland to Nepal said, “The Covid-19 surge is claiming lives every day in Nepal and has rapidly overwhelmed hospitals and depleted medical supplies all over the country.”
He added that Finland and the European Union are ready to help in this serious situation and stand in full solidarity with Nepal to protect all Nepalese the right to health and life.
Ambassador of Finland to Nepal Pertti Anttinen said the EU, in solidarity with Nepal, is committed to Nepal’s development efforts and supports its people during all times, particularly in a crisis.
Likewise, German Ambassador to Nepal Roland Schafer said Germany is sending medical supplies to Nepal next week.
“We will come together to fight against this dreadful pandemic,” he said.
Likewise, medical equipment donated by three EU Member States – Slovenia, Austria and Malta arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport on Sunday morning.
The Member States supplied the equipment through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to assist Nepal in its fight against this terrible second COVID wave, according to the Delegation of the European Union to Nepal.
The relief equipment comprises of 30,000 pieces face masks; 100,000 Nitrile gloves; 12,500 protective googles; 100,000 protective masks; 600,000 non-sterile medical masks; 50,000 FFP2 masks without valves; 1000 pulse oximeters; 2400 Antigen tests; 130 non-contact infrared thermometers; and 5000 face shields to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
The Australian Government also sent a Royal Australian Air Force flight with medical supplies to Nepal to assist in the frontline response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The materials delivered on 5 June include AUD$1.8 million worth of surgical masks, face shields and gloves, which were requested by the Nepal Army and donated by the Western Australian Government.
This support is in addition to the AUD$7 million announced on 21 May, which is enabling established NGOs to provide medical equipment and oxygen for hospitals and training for health workers.
The Australian Government continues to support the provision of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal, including through support to COVAX.
Australia’s Ambassador to Nepal Felicity Volk said that Australia is joining with partners across the region to support urgent healthcare needs, including through the provision of PPE to protect those working on the frontlines of the health response.
The UNICEF Nepal also delivered 500 oxygen concentrators, contributed by Canada, to the Ministry of Health and Population on Monday.
UNICEF has been delivering life-saving oxygen equipment – PPE and medical supplies, including 250 oxygen concentrators – of which 100 were supported with funding from Canada and 150 through the Asian Development Bank.
Nepal’s Health Minister Sher Bahadur Tamang has conveyed the gratitude of the Government and people of Nepal to the Government and friendly people of the countries for their generous support.
Hailing the German medical cooperation as a gesture befitting the longstanding Nepal-Germany friendship, the Minister stated that the materials would be critical in containing the surge of COVID-19 cases and treatment of the affected people.
According to data provided by the Ministry of Health, 540 units of ventilators including 380 units of BiPap machines have been provided as support to Nepal.
As many as one thousand 710 units of oxygen concentrator, 6 thousand 245 units of oxygen cylinders, and 12 lakh 45 thousand 25 units of antigen kits have been received so far. The Ministry also said it also received 200 ICU beds from Tibet’s Shandong, China.
Nepal has so far received 3.248 million doses of vaccine assistance from different countries, including India, China, and the Covax program through grants and purchases.
“We will give good news soon to the Nepali people regarding vaccines,” Minister Tamang told Khabarhub saying that the government was taking initiatives on getting the vaccine from the US, the UK, Russia, India and China.
The ministry, meanwhile, said efforts were also being made to get the vaccine in stock with the European Union.
India has donated 1 million Covishield vaccines to Nepal. Meanwhile, the Indian Army has given one lakh doses of grants to the Nepal Army.
While 348,000 doses of vaccine have been received through the Covax program, the United States, too, has announced to provide vaccines to Nepal.
Likewise, China has provided 1.8 million doses of vaccine to Nepal twice as a grant.
Similarly, Nepal has received ventilators from the UAE. It has provided 150 units of BiPAP. While the UK has provided 130 bypasses, Singapore-based Temasek Pride PTE Limited and FHI ThreeCity have provided 50/50 each to Nepal.
According to the Health Ministry, the Swiss Embassy in Nepal provided 40 ventilators, Temasek Pride PTE Limited in Singapore has provided 20 ventilators, Spain 15, France 14, and Tibet Santong China 5 ventilators.
Similarly, Nepal has also received oxygen concentrators from different countries and organizations. The TJDU CHI Foundation has provided 765 units, 350 by One Heart Worldwide, 160 by Japan, 129 by Direct Relief, 100 by UNICEF, 60 by IME Foundation, 54 by Thailand, 35 by Karuna Foundation, 10 each by Swiss Embassy in Nepal, Ncell, Spain, the UK, Tibet Santong China, and 7 oxygen concentrators by NRNA Oman.
The Ministry of Health said Nepal has so far received 6,245 oxygen cylinders from different donor agencies and countries.
The government of China has provided 2,000 oxygen cylinders, 1,500 by China Culture Medical Group, 1,000 by FHI ThreeCity, 800 by Tibet Santong China, 560 by NRNA Oman, 100 by World Vision International, 85 by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), and 50 by Spain 50, according to the Ministry.
Similarly, Tibet Autonomous Region has provided 150 units of liquid oxygen cylinders.
Currently, antigen testing has also been accelerated along with PCR as COVID019 infections have been spreading rapidly. Lately, around 5,000 antigens are tested daily.
According to the ministry, 1.245 million antigen kits have been received from various countries and organizations so far.
The Swiss Embassy in Nepal has provided 1.1 million antigen kits, Spain 124,800 and France has provided 20,225 kits.
Various countries and organizations have also provided N-95 masks to Nepal. Countries including France, Spain, and Switzerland have provided as many as 758,000 N-95 masks, the ministry said.
According to the ministry, Nepal has also received 7.5 million 28 thousand 240 surgical masks from different organizations.
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health and Population Dr. Krishna Poudel said that the Ministry has requested the donors to provide necessary supplies and equipment as per the current need.
Ventilators, ICU beds, oxygen concentrators, PCRs, and antigen kits, including vaccines, have been given priority, he said.
He said that if they want to help against COVID-19, they should give priority to vaccines. He said that the Ministry of Health has requested the allies and donors to give priority to ventilators in the fight against corona.
Meanwhile, the EU has also pledged to donate at least 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries in need by the end of 2021.
Nepal has currently 157 hospitals across the country listed for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The government has also made agreements with 45 private hospitals for free treatment of coronavirus patients. The country has 904 ventilators so far, and the government plans to add another 180 in the near future.