The Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation has announced that the Chinese philanthropist Jack Ma, has once again through his Foundation, donated medical supplies and equipment to Botswana to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. A press release from the ministry’s public affairs department said the consignment arrives today - Thursday 16th April 2020 - at the estimated time of 19:00 hours at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (CARGO).
On 28th March 2020 the second batch of emergency medical supplies donated by the Chinese government arrived at the SSKIA, comprising 1, 000 face masks, 500 personal protective equipment (PPEs), 300 infrared thermometers, goggles, gloves and shoe covers for medical use. Botswana’s frontline workers in the health, security and customs and immigration departments are in dire need of personal protective equipment (PPEs). The consignment that arrives this afternoon - although not quantified at the time of writing - will go a long way in bridging this deficit.
China, the world’s second largest economy, also the epicenter of this pandemic, adopted radical measures to stem the tide of the epidemic at home and has continued to share some of its best practices including financial assistance with the rest of the world through the World Health Organisation (US$20million) and the African Union Centre for Disease Control. In an earlier online briefing with local journalists, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Yambo assured that the embassy in Gaborone has regularly shared epidemic control updates with Vice President Slumber Tsogwane and various ministries since the onset of the pandemic.
He also reiterated that the embassy has shared the Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (Trial Version 7) with the ministry of health and wellness. The donation by the Chinese business magnate, investor and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group, which is a multinational technology conglomerate, to Botswana comes in the backdrop of Tuesday’s announcement by United States president Donald Trump that he was stopping his country’s annual funding of $400million to WHO, over the world health body’s handling of the Coronavirus.
This decision has attracted criticism from world leaders including Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat and WHO’s director general, the Ethiopian Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.