To address civil medical vulnerabilities related to COVID-19, the U.S. donated a $1.6 million mobile field hospital to Niger’s Agadez Regional Council on April 4, 2022.
“This mobile field hospital is a huge opportunity for the region,” said Dr. Iro Baoua, director, Agadez Regional Health Council. “I am very happy with the working partnership between Air Base 201 [Agadez, Niger] and the local and regional government.”
One of many Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster Assistance, and Civic Aid projects, the mobile field hospital was financed through U.S. Africa Command to expand partner nation capabilities to care for a wider range of critical patient needs. The 4,592 square-foot mobile field hospital increases Agadez Regional Hospital’s capacity by an additional 30 beds, complete with the medical tools and resources to care for the 670,000-person community and surrounding areas.
"Being a trusted partner means investing with our Nigerien partners in ways that will help strengthen defense capabilities and counter shared transnational threats which can range from COVID-19 to violent extremist networks," Maj. Gen. Ken Ekman, U.S. Africa Command director of strategy, plans and program. “This facility will improve our partnership in areas of pandemic and disaster response capability.”
In May of 2021, U.S. Army Civil Affairs, in coordination with regional leaders and U.S. Embassy-Niger, identified COVID-19 vulnerabilities within Agadez Regional Hospital resulting in the project’s proposal.
“Before the construction of this mobile field hospital, the only place to treat patients was in close proximity to others. Now that there is a separate, isolated facility, the spread of the COVID-19 virus will drastically decrease and keep vulnerable patients from being exposed,” said U.S. Army Spc. Mary Leszczusk, 404th Civil Affairs Battalion. “This was not just constructing a mobile field hospital, but an opportunity to partner with the citizens of the city and provide training for the hospital maintenance team so they feel confident to fix any problems that should occur.”
Once approved and financed, U.S. Africa Command enlisted U.S. contractors to build and train Nigerien workers on construction, de-construction and maintenance of the mobile field hospital. This knowledge exchange enables Agadez Regional to maintain the field hospital autonomously while also allowing the facility to be repurposed by the Government of Niger once the COVID-19 threat subsides.
“Many of the rural communities have limited access to medical care,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Peter Maenner, 404th CAB team sergeant. “This mobile field hospital can be re-deployed to more remote environments in the case of pandemic outbreaks or other critical needs.”
This donation follows a similar mobile field hospital donation in Niamey in March 2021, and reinforces the U.S. commitment to partnering with the Nigerien government to help ensure the health and security of Niger's citizens.