By Hamidu Katana
The government of France through its embassy in Uganda has on Tuesday donated one million FFP2 face masks, fifty-four thousand six hundred antigenic testing kits, and nine Osiris3 respirators the Government to help in the fight against coronavirus pandemic.
Handing over the donation to Premier Robinah Nabbanja, Jules-Armand Aniambossou, the Ambassador of France to Uganda said that they hope the token will contribute to the government’s interventions against the new wave.
“Today, I am pleased to witness the handover of a new donation from the French government to the government of the Republic of Uganda. This is a new gesture of solidarity towards a friendly country in the fight against a common enemy, Covid-19,” he said.
Aniambossou said that Uganda, like France, and indeed the whole world, is facing a pandemic that is straining the health systems.
“This is why we need a joint response. International solidarity is paramount. As President Emmanuel Macron said, a multilateral approach is the only response to the current world public health emergency.”
France has played a key role alongside World Health Organization and others in support of the establishment of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator partnership to enhance access to tests, treatments and vaccines, under the covax facility.
It is estimated that developing countries would need nearly two billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021 in order to protect at least 20% of their populations.
Aniambossou said that France has pledged 600 million euros and 60 million doses of vaccines by the end of 2021.
“My President has made several attempts to rally the international community in favour of the poorest countries, especially in Africa. At the G7 summit last February, Macron called on Europe and the developed countries to allocate 4 to 5% of their Covid-19 vaccine stocks to the Covax facility for the benefit of the poorest countries, especially Africa.”
According to him, the French President also urged the pharmaceutical companies making Covid-19 vaccines to transfer technology abroad so as to accelerate global production while stressing the need for transparency and regulation of the pricing and castigating the tendency towards excess profits based on scarcity of the vaccine.
He said that France supports cooperation with African institutions like the African CDC and the network of Institut Pasteur that are essential in identifying and containing the risks of variants.
“Right Honourable Prime Minister, last month, I was here with my sister, the Minister of Health, to receive 175 000 doses of vaccines that France donated to Uganda under the covax initiative.”
Besides the vaccines, Ambassador Aniambossou said that they have also supported Uganda’s response at a bilateral level.
“In June 2020, we supported the Ugandan army (UPDF) with alcohol-based hand sanitizers worth a half a billion shillings. Last November, the Makerere University School of Public Health received 15,000 euros from the French Embassy to support the development of simple, rapid, low-cost Covid-19 diagnostic tests by a team of scientists led by Dr. Misaki Wayengera.”
“We appreciate Uganda’s exemplary efforts in the fight against the pandemic. France will continue to stand in solidary with Uganda in this common struggle.”
Nabbanja lauded France, saying that the donated items will help Uganda in the fight against the Covid 19 pandemic.
She said that the contribution is a testimony of the long standing solidarity between the French people and the people of Uganda.
“We deeply value the relationship between our two Governments and peoples,” she said.
“As we say, a friend in need, is a friend indeed, France has ably demonstrated this friendship in many ways and consistently over the years.”
Nabbanja said that the fight against Covid 19 is one that can only be won when the international community acts collectively and in solidarity.
“No one can be safe unless everyone is safe, because the world is now very connected through trade, travel and tourism. This Covid 19 has shown us that the pandemic doesn’t know or respect national boundaries,” she said.
“We would like to see more of this type of international solidarity even in the access to Covid 19 vaccines. We all know now, that vaccination is the most sure way to reduce the spread of the pandemic. It also prevents patients from presenting severe symptoms.”