SOUTH AFRICA and LESOTHO BORDER — U.S. Department of Defense personnel assigned to the U.S. 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 June 25, 2020.
Personnel taking part in the hand-off 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.
“I am pleased to support the National Drug Storage Organization in Mafeteng as Lesotho receives this donation of personnel protective equipment (PPE) from the American people,” said U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Rebecca Gonzales “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."
The PPE will be used by the Lesotho National Drug Storage Organization in the country’s effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am grateful for the steadfast support shown by the United States to the Kingdom of Lesotho across the health sector," said Lesotho Minister of Health Hon. Motlatsi Maqelepo. "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.”
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.
“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,” said Mamojaefa Matsoara, Lesotho Ministry of Health director of supply chain.
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.
"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.
Although numbers of recorded cases remain low, the country is making efforts to obtain donations of protective equipment needed by frontline health workers. U.S. embassy personnel in both South Africa and Lesotho have been working with Lesotho health officials to assist.
“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 infrared thermometers allow healthcare workers to screen and identify patients without the need for physical contact,” said U.S Embassy Office of Defense Cooperation Chief Lt Col. Darrick Mosley. “Together, these items will enable local health providers to work with confidence as they fight the virus’ spread and protect Lesotho’s population."
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.
“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,” said U.S Embassy Pretoria Army Attaché Maj. Todd Meskil.
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 in order to support frontline health workers in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
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.