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Massive UNICEF shipments of supplies to fight Ebola reach 3,000MT mark

Massive UNICEF shipments of supplies to fight Ebola reach 3,000MT mark

Agility in provision of products and supply chains critical to Ebola response

GENEVA/COPENHAGEN/NEW YORK, 7 November 2014 – UNICEF has sent almost 3,000 metric tonnes of life-saving supplies including protective equipment and essential medicine in the past three months to fight the spread of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The children’s agency is among the largest source of supplies in the Ebola response.

UNICEF’s supply response – already equivalent in weight to 250 city buses – will continue to scale up as efforts intensify to tackle and defeat the virus, including the establishment of more facilities to care for and treat patients. Many components of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by health care workers treating suspected or confirmed Ebola cases are intended for single use to avoid contamination. A health worker can use between 6 to 9 sets a day.

“This is the most complex emergency to which we have ever had to respond, and it has required agility in the provision of products, supply chains and service delivery,” said Shanelle Hall, Director of UNICEF’s global supply and logistics operations.

“Supply chains have had to be flexible, and meet extremely high standards of quality,” said Hall, who recently returned from Sierra Leone and Liberia. “UNICEF is working with governments, industry and partners to establish whole new supply chains so that we are able to deliver dozens of new products to new service delivery locations.”

Next week, UNICEF is convening a global consultation with the PPE industry to provide global forecasts and advocate for sufficient global supply. Over 15 manufacturers representing the vast majority of global production capacity will be present, as well as key partners including the World Health Organization (WHO), Medecins sans frontieres (MSF), representatives of the UK and US governments, and others.

UNICEF has maintained a steady stream of airlifts, and more recently, sea shipments of PPE, essential medicines, medical equipment, chlorine bleach and soap. UNICEF is also providing items such as tents, beds and mattresses to support governments in setting up new Community Care Centres where patients with Ebola symptoms can be provided accommodation separately from their families and communities to reduce the risk of transmission.

Examples include:

  • In Guinea, ambulances are being used to transport patients and dead bodies;
  • In Liberia, UNICEF supplies are being used to treat patients and also restart health services. Since the beginning of the outbreak, hundreds of thousands of disposable gloves and other supplies have been provided to the Ministry of Health. UNICEF-supplied chlorine is also being used at Ebola treatment units.
  • In Sierra Leone, protection equipment including coveralls, suits, gloves and goggles, plus essential drugs and chlorine supplies are channelled to Ebola treatment centres, holding centres, hospitals and primary health units, through the Government of Sierra Leone’s Central Medical Stores. Protective equipment and medicine, in addition to tents, beds and mattresses, are being used in new Ebola Community Care Centres which are being built by UNICEF for the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.

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