Distribution of Masks to Fight against COVID-19 In Cooperation with Eisai

A Congolese refugee and health volunteer (left), receives a mask at the Kyangwali refugee settlement in western Uganda on April 29.

AAR Japan (Association for Aid and Relief, Japan) will distribute 250,000 masks to three African countries (Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia) in cooperation with the major pharmaceutical company Eisai Co. The first shipment arrived at a refugee settlement in western Uganda and was distributed to staff working on health and medical activities.

In the Kyangwali refugee settlement in western Uganda, where refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are living, 119 cases of COVID-19 infection have been confirmed and one of them has died so far. In addition to the limited number of clinics and medical personnel, there is an absolute shortage of masks. There is also an insufficient response to other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria.

100,000 masks were delivered to the Kyangwali refugee settlement, and AAR Uganda office decided to distribute them to 246 health volunteers and 79 community leaders who are engaged in hygiene awareness activities in clinics and settlements after consulting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and medical support organizations.

UNHCR doctors and health volunteers explain about the masks delivered from Japan, at the Kyangwali refugee settlement on April 29.

Ronarld Lubega, a Ugandan doctor from UNHCR, said, "I would like to thank everyone who sent masks from as far away as Japan. The masks will be used effectively to prevent infectious diseases in the refugee settlements. “

Mr. Jauyambe Marki, a Congolese refugee and health volunteer, said, "In our health care activities, we are sometimes called for urgent care in the middle of the night, and masks are essential to prevent infection when dealing with patients. There is a great lack of medical supplies for the health volunteers, so the support from Japan is very helpful.”

AAR and Eisai are jointly implementing a project to combat mycetoma, one of the neglected tropical diseases, in Sudan. In response to the request by Eisai for 250,000 masks to be used in the fight against COVID-19 in Africa, AAR conducted a needs assessment through its field offices and decided on the recipients of the masks. In addition to Uganda, 120,000 masks will be sent to a COVID-19 control center hospital in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and 30,000 masks will be sent to clinics in Zambia, where refugees from neighboring countries have been resettled.

Since last year, AAR has been delivering masks and disinfectants to welfare facilities for persons with disabilities and disability-related organizations in Japan, as well as distributing hygiene products and foodstuffs to refugees, persons with disabilities, and impoverished families in 13 foreign countries as emergency support. 

COVID-19 disaster has been affecting the most vulnerable people in society. As everyone in the world is equally threatened by the virus, we believe that mutual compassion and solidarity will be the key to overcoming this unprecedented crisis.

We would like to ask for your understanding and support for our efforts.