Addis Ababa, 24 December 2020 (ECA) - “We are gathered here today to extend our hand of solidarity in response to an appeal by the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) for support in their COVID-19 response activities,” said Carlos Haddad who heads the Division of Administration at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
He was speaking during a ceremony to handover two 30 seater Nissan Civilian buses to the EPHI on 24 December 2020 in Addis Ababa - as part of a wider United Nations support to COVID-19 efforts in the country.
“Combating COVID-19 requires us all - governments, individuals and organizations from across industries and sectors to work together. ECA is pleased, therefore, to provide the EPHI with these vehicles for use in COVID-19 emergency response, as we all pray for the end of the pandemic,” said Mr. Haddad.
The donation follows a request by the EPHI, which currently runs a Public Health Emergency Operation Center in collaboration with Ethiopia’s health ministry to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
EPHI’s Deputy Director General, Aschalew Abayneh, expressed gratitude for the “generous donation,” which he said will go a long way to address the “severe shortage of transportation” for their staff involved in several emergency response activities including surveillance, case management, laboratory, and contact tracing among others. “These activities require reaching the most remote areas of the country,“ he noted.
The event was organized in collaboration with WHO and the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator. Acting Resident Coordinator and Country Director for IFAD, Ulac Demirag, congratulated EPHI and the government of Ethiopia for the “timely and effective response to limit the spread of COVID despite various challenges.”
Mr. Demirag cautioned, however, that the pandemic was “far from over” and urged stakeholders to continue responding appropriately to protect lives. He said the UN family has been a partner of Ethiopia “since the outbreak of COVID19 both in terms of supporting with the overall health response across the country as well as trying to mitigate the social and economic aspects of the pandemic.”
Commenting on news of the COVID-19 vaccines, WHO’s Dr. Patrick Abok said “I know we are all excited, but we need to continue implementing public health measures such as washing of hands, wearing masks, and social-distancing because we think these strategies have worked and will continue to work. Vaccines are not a magic bullet.”
Mr. Abayneh said the buses will enhance the Ethiopian Public Health Institute’s ability to plan and execute tasks in a more timely and effective manner.