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    U.S. Embassy personnel donate medical personal protective equipment to Lesotho at South African, Lesotho border station

    U.S. Embassy personnel donate PPE to Lesotho at South African, Lesotho border

    Photo By Lt. Col. Al Phillips | U.S. Army Maj. Todd Meskil, the U.S. Embassy Army Attache assigned in Pretoria, South...... read more read more



    Story by Lt. Col. Al Phillips 

    New York National Guard

    SOUTH AFRICA and LESOTHO BORDER— U.S. Department of Defense personnel assigned to the United States embassies in South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho met at the Maseru Bridge Border Post crossing between the two nations to hand-off medical protective equipment on Thursday, June 25, 2020.

    The Department of Defense personnel assigned to the South African embassy delivered 12,000 medical grade face masks, 11,000 face shields and 256 thermometers to their counterparts from the U.S. embassy in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

    The personal protective equipment (PPE) will be used by the Lesotho National Drug Storage Organization in the country’s effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The delivery was facilitated by the U.S. Embassy Office of Defense Cooperation in South Africa, which has officers accredited to the Kingdom of Lesotho.

    Travel restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 require the embassy personnel to meet at the border to deliver the medical equipment from South Africa to Lesotho.

    A similar transfer occurred earlier at South Africa’s border with the neighboring Kingdom of Eswatini on June 3.

    The Kingdom of Lesotho, known generally as Lesotho, is a southern African country surrounded by South Africa known as the “Kingdom of the Sky” because of its terrain. Lesotho’s lowest point is more than 1,500 meters above sea level, which makes it the highest country in the world.

    Lesotho is also one of three independent states surrounded by the territory of another country. The other two, San Marino and Vatican City, are both surrounded by Italy.

    U.S. Ambassador to Lesotho Rebecca Gonzales said she was glad the embassy and the American people could help the people of Lesotho.

    “I am pleased to support the National Drug Storage Organization in Mafeteng as Lesotho receives this donation of personnel protective equipment from the American people,” she said.

    “As with all of our assistance, we work very closely with our partners, including the Ministry of Health, to ensure equipment, materials and resources reach those who need it most, across the Mountain Kingdom. Because this donation includes PPE for frontline healthcare workers, I want to express my appreciation to all of Lesotho’s healthcare professionals, who are working so hard to protect and to care for their fellow citizens, especially during this time of COVID-19. This donation will help protect Lesotho’s health workers as they work to protect the rest of us,” Gonzales said.

    On his part, the Lesotho Minister of Health Hon. Motlatsi Maqelepo said, “I am grateful for the steadfast support shown by the United States to the Kingdom of Lesotho across the health sector. The equipment donated here today will go a long way in our efforts to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus. I am very happy to continue working with Ambassador Gonzales and the U.S. Embassy team on our urgent public health priorities.”

    “At this very moment such critical items are most needed in the villages for our front-line health workers, especially the infrared thermometers and face shields,” Mamojaefa Matsoara, the Lesotho Ministry of Health Director of Supply Chain added.

    Lesotho was one of the last countries in Africa to report COVID-19 cases. On May 13, health officials in Lesotho announced that one COVID-19 case had been identified.

    Although numbers of recorded cases remain low, the country is making efforts to obtain donations of protective equipment desperately needed by frontline health workers. U.S. embassy personnel in both South Africa and Lesotho have been working with Lesotho health officials to assist.

    Health workers have been sharing via social media the critical need for PPE, while sharing dire details on the measures they are taking to protect themselves while short on proper equipment.

    The ODC conferred with the U.S. interagency and Lesotho Ministry of Health to ensure that its donations best supported the Ministry’s needs.

    “The FFP2 masks provide top filtering performance to Lesotho’s medical providers that treat COVID-19 positive patients, the plastic face shields provide longer duration protection to the country’s service providers that routinely interact with the general public, and the Infra-red thermometers allow healthcare workers to screen and identify patients without the need for physical contact,” U.S Embassy Office of Defense Cooperation Chief, Lt Col. Darrick Mosley said.

    “Together, these items will enable local health providers to work with confidence as they fight the virus’ spread and protect Lesotho’s population,” he added.

    Lesotho has found it difficult to obtain PPE because of rising prices due to high demand. For example, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo noted that N95 masks used by medical personnel that normally cost 58 cents per mask were selling for $7.50 each at the height of demand during the pandemic.

    N95 masks are particularly useful, as they protect physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and others from airborne droplets. Goggles and face shields provide needed eye protection.

    “For such reasons, it is an honor to be a part of this effort to assist the Basotho people during these difficult days—America will always act swiftly to assist our friends and partners both in times of peace, and crisis,” U.S Embassy Pretoria Army Attaché, Maj. Todd Meskil said.

    Lesotho, with a population of 2 million people, has a gross domestic product of about $1,299 U.S. dollars per person. The gross domestic product of New York, in contrast, was $64,579 per person in 2017.

    Since April, the U.S Embassy Office of Defense Cooperation has worked with South Africa, and the Kingdoms of Eswatini and Lesotho to facilitate PPE deliveries to these nations in order to support frontline health workers in stopping the spread of COVID-19.



    Date Taken: 06.25.2020
    Date Posted: 06.25.2020 15:01
    Story ID: 372836
    Location: PRETORIA, ZA

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