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UK deploys emergency medical team to Malawi

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Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda

The United Kingdom (UK) Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has announced that a UK Emergency Medical Team (EMT) has been deployed to Malawi for eight weeks to support Ministry of Health’s Covid response.

The team will specifically help in management of critically ill Covid patients, help clear community perceptions around Covid and offer support to national Covid vaccination efforts, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Programme Officer for Malawi Singalilwe Chilemba indicates in a statement.

“UK EMT is a rapid medical response [team with] capability, composed of world-class experts who deliver front line medical care, advice and support to governments, the WHO [World Health Organisation] and local healthcare workers during disease outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies to save lives and alleviate suffering,” the statement reads.

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Since the advent of the Covid pandemic, the UK EMT has been supporting global efforts to respond to the pandemic through the deployment of specialist staff to work alongside ministries of health, WHO–EMT Secretariat, WHO country offices, as well as other United Nations agencies and international non-governmental organisations.

So far, EMT members have been deployed to Ghana, Cambodia, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, South Africa, Chad, Lebanon, Armenia, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana and also provided support to the domestic response in the UK with the setup of the Manchester Nightingale field hospital

British High Commissioner to Malawi David Beer has described the Covid pandemic as a global problem necessitating a global response.

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“Covid is a global problem that requires a global solution. No one is safe until everyone is safe. The UK continues to be Malawi’s close partner in responding to the pandemic, supporting vaccines and the medical response. We are delighted to be able to deploy a UK Emergency Medical Team in order to support the health authorities on the ground,” he said.

UK EMT Team Lead Ngoni Mac Nyambawaro said they were prepared to provide top-notch services.

“On behalf of the UK Emergency Medical Team, our team of highly qualified experts looks forward to supporting national healthcare teams to attend to critically ill Covid patients and to develop their capabilities to ensure the impact of this response lasts well beyond the time we are in Malawi,” Nyambawaro said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda has lauded the UK for the initiative.

“The Covid pandemic presents a clear challenge to the country’s economy, communities and healthcare system. The on-job support and capacity building of our health professionals by UK EMT, as well as risk communications and community and health worker engagement, will help us prepare better for future waves,” she said.

The UK has been at the forefront of the global response to Covid, kick-starting the Covid Vaccines Access (Covax) Facility in 2020 and investing £90 million in supporting the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Apart from supporting the immediate humanitarian response in Malawi with £9.67 million, and co-funding the Covax vaccines that Malawi has received, the UK has, so far, also provided 119,040 vaccines bilaterally.

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