Since Covid-19 first impacted the world in 2020, Airlink and our NGO partners have been working to help communities on every continent, including those in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Pandemics place a tremendous burden on health systems and the medical personnel that operate them, and COVID-19 has been no different. We have seen that in the US, Europe, and across many high-income countries.
For health systems operating in low-income countries, these challenges have become increasingly apparent. This is especially true in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa where community health workers have a vital role within healthcare systems and in crisis response but often lack the resources and support needed to provide services to communities.
A lack of hygiene items, including soap and access to clean water, limits access to necessary sanitation practices, such as handwashing, and has made combating the spread of COVID-19 more difficult.
Similarly, the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – which has come to be taken for granted in high-income countries – is a significant cost burden to individuals and local health systems in low-income countries where they often compete with high-income countries to purchase available supplies. Access to face masks, gloves, and other PPE items limit health workers’ ability to protect themselves from the transmission of COVID-19 and other illnesses.
In terms of vaccines and vaccine distribution, the story is much the same. Deeply impacted health systems and infrastructure have struggled to cope with the complex requirements of vaccine storage and nationwide distribution when vaccine doses are made available. Without vaccine equity, countries are unable to protect communities from severe cases of COVID-19, which has a significant impact on health infrastructure capacity for those seeking care. Severe cases require increased access to oxygen treatments, but with many countries experiencing crisis levels of oxygen access, life saving treatments are inaccessible. Oxygen access and vaccine equity can save lives.
Through 2020 and 2021 Airlink supported its partner NGOs with passenger and cargo flights so that they can get urgently needed supplies of PPE, gowns, surgical gloves, oxygen, and medical supplies, and hygiene-related items to countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Throughout the majority of the pandemic, the story of COVID-19 has been dominated by its impact upon high-income countries. But there is so much that needs to be done across Sub-Saharan Africa to help local health systems respond to the pandemic and help people get the support they need to protect themselves, their families, and communities.
So far, Airlink has supported humanitarian aid programs in 17 countries, including:
- The Democratic Republic of Congo
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
Amongst the 108 tons of critically needed medical supplies Airlink and our airline and air cargo sponsors have airlifted to help combat COVID-19, there were:
- 203 oxygen delivery devices (O2 concentrators, ventilators)
- 2,299 oxygen accessories (equipment, pulse oximeters)
- 155,882 mixed medical supplies
- 43,023 mixed PPE
- 42,297 gowns/coveralls
- 340,104 gloves
- 137,582 masks
What do all those numbers mean? Thousands of lives saved across Sub-Sarahan Africa.
But the work is ongoing and so Airlink is committed to continuing to support vital programs across Sub-Saharan Africa.