UN-standard level-2 hospitals provided by the U.S. to African partner nations as part of the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (ARPRP) have been deployed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ghana, Senegal, and Uganda independently decided to deploy their hospitals in support of their national response, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Mohamed Diallo, International Health Specialist, U.S. Africa Command. “The military providers who operate these hospitals are already seeing patients. We are proud that the training and equipment the United States provided via APPRP enabled our African partners to quickly and effectively respond to their population’s medical needs.”
"We are proud to stand by our partners as we battle this deadly virus in Africa and around the globe," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. James Vechery, deputy commander, U.S. Africa Command. "As we work shoulder-to-shoulder, it is exciting to see our African partners putting the capabilities we've developed over the past few years to such great use during this global pandemic."
Both Senegal and Uganda are using the hospitals as overflow facilities for existing hospitals.
"We are going to start treating people," said Lt. Col. Henry Obbo, Uganda Land Forces spokesperson. "It's just put here as emergency, just in case the means of health might require additional facilities."
Ghana, which has nearly 300 confirmed cases of COVID-19, is using the facility to treat those affected by the virus.
"Now more than ever, the United States is pleased to work together with the government, armed forces, and people of Ghana. This mobile hospital will directly serve those most in need," said Amb. Stephanie Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana. "Together, we will emerge from this stronger and more united."
Each hospital package includes 14 shelters with a total of 690 square meters (7,427 square feet) of shelter space, consisting of an intensive care unit, a radiology unit, and 20 beds.
"This program, and the medical capabilities it brings to the COVID-19 fight on the African continent, is a prime example of the unique, continuing commitment that U.S. Africa Command pledges to our Africa partners throughout Africa," said U.S. Air Force Col. Krystal Murphy, deputy command surgeon, U.S. Africa Command. "It is our hope that the support we provide to our partners enables them to lessen human suffering and strengthen their nations, their people, and the global community."
The purpose of APRRP is to build, strengthen, and institutionalize security forces’ enabling capabilities. For both Senegal and Ghana, the cost was approximately $6.5 million to equip two hospitals each. The program also includes approximately $2 million each to be used for training. The official ribbon-cutting for the hospital in Senegal was October 2019, and for Ghana was February 2020.
“The goal of U.S. engagement programs is to build capable and self-sufficient partners and allies. The fact that each of these nations independently deployed their UN-level 2 Hospitals in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic strongly suggests we achieved this goal,” said Murphy. “We are very pleased that our investment is already paying dividends for the people of Senegal, Ghana and Uganda.”
The hospitals are one example of efforts undertaken by U.S. Africa Command to assist African partners to enhance their medical capabilities and pandemic response. Programs such as tactical combat casualty care training, medical readiness exercises, and conferences focused on pandemic response efforts all demonstrate the long-term investment by the command.
“U.S. Africa Command enjoys strong and enduring relationships with our partners in Africa,” said Murphy. “We have a history together. And we will have a future together. We are exchanging expertise and experiences with one another as we work to find a collective solution to this pandemic. It’s a two-way dialogue for sure, which serves to tighten the bonds between us and our African partners.”