Image source: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
The ELMA Relief Foundation (‘ELMA’), a private foundation focused on supporting relief efforts in countries around the world facing humanitarian crises, has paid US $1,100,000 to the Cayman Islands Government as full reimbursement for the cost of 50,000 PCR tests surplus to its needs.
ELMA has donated these test kits to the Clinton Health Access Initiative (“CHAI”) for use in Zimbabwe, which is one of the most resource-constrained countries in Africa facing an urgent shortage of such test kits as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads.
Zimbabwe has 3,169 confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and 67 deaths, according the US Embassy in Zimbabwe. As the number of cases grow, there have been concerns around the availability of healthcare workers as many have been withdrawing their labour, seeking higher salaries and better personal protective equipment in light of unfavorable work conditions during the crisis. President Mnangagwa said that health workers should put the nation first in the fight to contain Covid-19, yesterday, while assuring them that Government was attending to their grievances.
In April, health professionals in Zimbabwe sounded the alarm over the country’s limited capacity to test people for the virus, warning that a lack of critical equipment and infrastructure shortages may result in many cases going undetected.
The operation to move the kits from frozen storage in George Town to Southern Africa was coordinated by ELMA, the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority and the Governor’s Office in the Cayman Islands.
The Cayman Islands Government originally sourced 200,000 kits at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that Cayman had the ability to test large numbers and became one of the top three countries in the world for COVID testing per capita. The kits provided under the arrangement with ELMA leaves Cayman with sufficient supplies going forward.
Governor Martyn Roper said: “I am very grateful to the ELMA Relief Foundation for organizing this initiative. We purchased an excess of COVID tests to ensure Cayman’s resilience at a crucial point in the pandemic. Our options in terms of testing have now expanded and it is great that our surplus kits will be going to assist with COVID response in Africa”.
Premier Alden McLaughlin commented: “I am delighted that these vital supplies will be going to support vulnerable communities in Africa and that Cayman was able to play a part in that as well as supporting other Caribbean countries. Our stocks of COVID testing supplies remain robust and we continue to look at innovative solutions to help us navigate through this crisis”