Strengthening the fight against COVID-19 among vulnerable populations in Benin

{Photo credit: Les Angles d’Afrique}Dr. Pétas Akogbéto and US Ambassador Patricia Mahoney.Photo credit: Les Angles d’Afrique

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Since the first COVID-19 cases confirmed on March 17, 2020, Benin has taken important measures to fight the pandemic.

To support Benin in this fight, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Integrated Health Services Activity—implemented by Management Sciences for Health—helped the departments of Alibori, Atacora, Oueme, and Plateau establish platforms to coordinate response efforts and led a training for health staff trainers on standard guidelines and procedures in COVID-19 infection prevention, control, and surveillance.

But to carry out this work safely and effectively, the four departments needed significant quantities of health materials to protect health professionals and the population from the disease.

In response, the USAID Integrated Health Services Activity donated a large quantity of materials and equipment to the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microfinance at an official ceremony at the Ministry of Health on May 20, 2021. Participants included Dr. Pétas Akogbéto (Cabinet Director for the Minister of Health), Ms. Elise Fatiman Kossoko Kossouoh (Deputy General Secretary for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microfinance), Ms. Patricia Mahoney (US Ambassador to Benin), Mr. Carl Anderson (USAID Country Representative), and Dr. Floride Niyuhire (Chief of Party for the USAID Integrated Health Services Activity).

The donation included 417,000 surgical masks, 740,000 latex gloves, 26,737 bottles of hand sanitizer, 169 megaphones for community awareness, and 96 small and 4 large hand washing stations for hospitals.

[Left to right: Dr. Floride Niyuhire; Ms. Elise Fatiman Kossoko Kossouoh; Dr. Pétas Akogbéto; Ms. Patricia Mahoney; and Mr. Carl Anderson. Photo credit: Les Angles d’Afrique]Left to right: Dr. Floride Niyuhire; Ms. Elise Fatiman Kossoko Kossouoh; Dr. Pétas Akogbéto; Ms. Patricia Mahoney; and Mr. Carl Anderson. Photo credit: Les Angles d’Afrique

Dr. Akogbéto thanked the US Government for this donation: “We are grateful for this donation since the pandemic […] is still ongoing. As a result, we still need additional human, material, and financial resources, and this donation will help fill this gap for the various material and equipment needs that are required for the management of this health crisis.”

During her speech, Ambassador Mahoney highlighted the strong collaboration between the two countries in the health sector: “These materials symbolize our partnership with the Beninese people, not only in our fight against COVID-19, but also in our partnership for a future that is safer, healthier, and more prosperous for all.”

[Ms. Patricia Mahoney and Ms. Elise Fatiman Kossoko Kossouoh. Photo credit: Les Angles d’Afrique]Ms. Patricia Mahoney and Ms. Elise Fatiman Kossoko Kossouoh. Photo credit: Les Angles d’Afrique

Most of these supplies will be sent to community health workers and centers hosting vulnerable people, such as orphans and people with disabilities, who often lack the means to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Ms. Kossouoh is confident that this donation will go to good use, which the Ministry of Social Affairs and Microfinance will monitor. “[We will] ensure the good usage of the material and equipment to achieve the common objective of protecting the Beninese population and eliminating COVID-19,” she said.

Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic that require important human and financial efforts, the Government of Benin, USAID, and implementing partners are still working closely with facilities and health workers to continue the fight.

[Donation of material in the department of Atacora. Photo credit: Les Angles d’Afrique]Donation of material in the department of Atacora. Photo credit: Les Angles d’Afrique