How the EU and the WHO are helping Belarusian healthcare workers save lives

29-07-2020

The EU and the World Health Organization (WHO) have delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers in the region of Minsk, as part of the EU’s two-year assistance programme for the Belarusian healthcare system. The programme's budget is over €3 million.

We are together in this crisis

The PPE was delivered to the Minsk Regional Tuberculosis Dispensary, which has been redesigned to treat patients with COVID-19. According to the dispensary's representatives, the PPE will be distributed to those healthcare institutions in the region that need it the most. The goal is not only to respond to urgent needs, but also to create the necessary stock.

On 13 July, over 450,000 units of personal protective equipment were shipped, including 300,000 medical masks, over 130,000 respirators, 6,000 goggles, 6,000 face shields and over 10,000 medical gowns.

“Today we are all taking another step together in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” notes Head of the EU Delegation to Belarus Ambassador Dirk Schuebel.

Mr Schuebel adds that it is important for the EU to show solidarity in these difficult times, because “we are all Europeans”, and “Belarus is a neighbour of the European Union”.

“We want to show that we are together in this crisis and want to help the people of Belarus,” says the EU official.

COVID-19 won’t be the last virus to haunt us

The personal protective equipment is part of the WHO’s and EU’s broader assistance to prevent, detect and respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Over the next two years, the two institutions will continue to support Belarus in strengthening the country's capacity to respond to public health emergencies. In particular, they will provide advisory and expert assistance to strengthen the healthcare system and prepare it for similar situations in the future, as “COVID-19 won’t be the last virus to haunt us”, according to Batyr Berdyklychev, WHO representative in Belarus.

“At the moment, we are discussing with the Ministry of Health the activities for the next two years,” says the WHO representative.

Save every frontline worker

Every item of PPE has been tested for compliance with the international quality and safety standards, and is intended for medical workers who are on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19.

The importance of protective equipment for healthcare staff working with COVID-19 patients cannot be overestimated. The head physician of the dispensary, Olga Gorenyuk, says:

“It is important to save every frontline worker – doctors, specialists with secondary medical education and orderlies. And we have succeeded.”

Now doctors are seeing a decrease in patients.

“There are 25% fewer patients now than a month ago,” says Marya Yanukovich, deputy chief physician of the Minsk Regional Tuberculosis Dispensary.

Author: Elena Spasyuk

Article published in Russian by Naviny.by

EU response to COVID-19