The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that it sent millions of masks, gloves, goggles and other items worth $1.7 million to protect healthcare professionals and other frontline workers in Turkey from COVID-19.
In a statement, the WHO said that the equipment was sent thanks to funding provided by the German government through KfW Development Bank.
“Through this funding, WHO has also assisted the Ministry of Health to track the spread of COVID-19 in Istanbul, one of the cities hit hardest by the pandemic,” it said.
Turkey announced its first COVID-19 case on March 11, which was the day that the WHO characterized the outbreak as a pandemic and urged countries to ramp up their measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Two WHO partners, the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) and Doctors Worldwide (DWW), helped distribute the protective items across the country.
ASAM helped distribute more than 2.8 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE), including 1.4 million pairs of disposable gloves, 1.3 million surgical masks, 25 000 hair caps, 16 900 respirator masks, 16 000 disposable coats, 8800 pairs of protective goggles, 8900 protective coveralls and 4600 face shields.
Disposable stretch covers, disinfectant, infusion sets, deep-freezers, laboratory-type refrigerators, digital infrared thermometers and other laboratory equipment were also purchased to support the COVID-19 response in the country.
With support from the funding, DWW made available five vehicles with drivers during April–June 2020, to transport Health Ministry medical teams, comprising a nurse and a doctor, to run COVID-19 diagnostic tests on contacts of individuals tested positive.
The financial support that allowed for the distribution of PPE was originally intended for WHO’s Refugee Health Programme in Turkey, however, the donor supported the redistribution of funds towards the needs created by the pandemic.
“The Refugee Health Programme continues to support the employment of Syrian personnel in the Turkish health sector, while providing health services to Syrian refugees in Turkey. The programme, launched jointly with the Ministry of Health in 2018, has seen over 390 Syrian personnel hired and almost 80 000 home-care services delivered to date,” the statement read.