By Ayya Lmahamad
The coronavirus pandemic, which brought a number of unparalleled challenges and disruptions, requires a worldwide effort in protecting public health. Countries have taken reinforcement measures on containment, prevention, and response to the spread of the pandemic under the leadership of their respective heads of state and government.
From this standpoint, Azerbaijan has made a significant contribution to the strengthening of solidarity and cooperation against coronavirus at a global level. As part of its cooperation in this sphere, Azerbaijan provided voluntary financial assistance to the World Health Organization (WHO). Funds supplied to the WHO by the country, which plays an active role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic both at the domestic and multilateral levels, are intended for those most in need of assistance from the regional groups of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Azerbaijan also provided assistance in the form of medical supplies and equipment to individual countries.
Back in May this year, at the initiative of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who is also the chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an online summit of the NAM contact group was held. In his opening remarks at the summit titled “United against COVID-19”, he said that the countries could “overcome COVID-19 with mutual support, self-control and joint efforts only”. To recap, Azerbaijan also chaired the summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking states on COVID-19 on April 10.
The Azerbaijani office of the WHO was established in June 1994 in Baku to assist in implementing the WHO programs in the country. The office coordinates the WHO activities in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is closely cooperating with the organization over the coronavirus pandemic.
Azerbaijan is one of 17 countries in the WHO European Region that receive laboratory test kits. The first batch of test kits was delivered to the country already in February.
Moreover, within the framework of the fight against COVID-19, Azerbaijan was the first country implementing a project such as REACT-C19. The project, implemented as part of measures to combat COVID-19 and aimed to increase basic skills in hospitals, lasted for three months.
Thus, the project started in the middle of April with the arrival to Baku of 19 Azerbaijani doctors currently working in Turkey. In late May, 19 Azerbaijani doctors participating in the project have completed their work in Baku and the country’s districts and were awarded certificates.
The project was aimed at developing rapidly basic skills in hospitals allocated in the regions for the treatment of patients infected with a new type of coronavirus. Specialists in the prevention and control of infection, triage, management of infection cases and SARS were represented in each of four teams of Azerbaijani doctors coming from Turkey. These specialists were trained at Turkey's selected universities, gained practical experience in the spheres, and received relevant instructions.
Azerbaijan has allocated to the World Health Organization a donation in the amount of $10 million. The relevant donor agreement was signed between Azerbaijan and the World Health Organization on May 11.
This donor agreement provides for voluntary financial assistance by the Azerbaijani government to the Fund “Appeal COVID-19” within the framework of the World Health Organization’s “Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan”.
In addition to $10 million allocated for the World Health Organization, Azerbaijan has provided the humanitarian and financial aid to over 30 countries to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, Azerbaijan provided $5 million to neighbouring Iran, sent medical supplies amounting to 25 tons to Iraq, 4.5 tons of medical supplies to Afghanistan and humanitarian aid worth $25,000 to Yemen, among others.
Under the Initiative for Health project, Azerbaijan received the first batch of humanitarian aid for medical workers in hospitals where coronavirus patients are treated on June 22. The European Union and the World Health Organization sent humanitarian cargo to six countries in total, that is Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The total sum of humanitarian aid makes up $30 million. This amount will be shared among the countries within two years.
Thus, in the first phase, medical supplies of 10,000 transparent shields, 10,000 medical masks, 8,000 protective overalls and 140,000 respirators were delivered to Azerbaijan.
Additionally, as part of measures to curb the spread of the pandemic in Azerbaijan, medical specialist from different countries arrived. On July 8, a group of COVID-19 specialists from Turkey and Russia visited Azerbaijan. On July 13, some 114 specialists arrived in Azerbaijan from Cuba to counter the spread of the coronavirus disease. On July 30, specialists from the International Bank of Azerbaijan and the State Compulsory Medical Insurance Agency arranged the visit of medical experts from Turkey. Moreover, six specialists arrived from Italy in August to spend two weeks in the country to help Azerbaijan curb the spread of the virus. On August 4, medical specialists from China arrived in Baku and they will stay in the country for 15 days to provide the Azerbaijani colleagues with methodological support and discusses their future cooperation.
Furthermore, on July 22, a mission from the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe arrived in Azerbaijan to support the country’s fight against COVID-19. The purpose of the mission was to assess the current situation in the country and make recommendations accordingly.
Azerbaijan registered its COVID-19 case in February and introduced the special quarantine regime on March 24.
The World Health Organization started operating in 1948. The organization's primary role is to direct and coordinate international health issues within the United Nations system.