UGANDA – The UK has announced a commitment of £500,000 (over $708,000) to UNICEF Uganda’s COVID-19 appeal, vital support that will benefit over 1.8 million people across Uganda.

This funding for oxygen and essential supplies will help improve covid-19 response in the East Africa country that is immensely affected by the third wave.

So far, Uganda has recorded 79,434 cases, 989 deaths and 52,382 recoveries. WHO reported that 97% of samples sequenced in Uganda came back positive of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Oxygen demand in Africa has gone up 50% compared to last years first wave peak. As Uganda undergoes its third wave of the COVID 19 pandemic, the demand for refilling oxygen cylinders has drastically increased.

Oxygen provider Roofings Group previously refilled around 40 to 50 cylinders of oxygen per day, depending on demand, but now refills almost 400 cylinders daily.

The stark difference in remains is attributed to hospitals treating coronavirus patients being in need of the life-saving gas during the health crisis.

The funding will support an increase in oxygen production and delivery and improve the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at selected health facilities, to keep health care workers safe.

UK support will also enable the procurement and installation of a new oxygen plant, in Kayunga Referral Hospital, boosting Uganda’s oxygen production capabilities.

In addition, funding will provide Personal Protective Equipment to Arua Regional Referral Hospital, Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, Soroti Regional Referral Hospital, Moroto Regional Referral Hospital, and support the training of health care workers in PPE and oxygen use.

The British High Commissioner, H.E. Kate Airey OBE, said “This outbreak of COVID-19 is a huge challenge globally and the UK continues to be at the forefront of global efforts to tackle the pandemic. As one of the largest supporters of the COVAX vaccines program.”

This support is just one way the UK is helping countries respond to COVID-19. In Uganda the UK has also donated test kits and supplied PPE, upgraded water, sanitation and hygiene facilities at health centers.

They have aslo provided training and helped deliver messaging on COVIID-19 prevention, helped children continue learning through the provision of distance learning lessons, provided media training to help counter misinformation and ensure accurate COVID-19 reporting.

UK also funded two COVID-19 Isolation rooms at home for children suffering from cancer in Kampala.

The UK was also one of the first countries to back COVAX and to date has committed £548 million to ensure global access to vaccines and has consistently called on other donors to step up their support. Through the COVAX equitable access facility Uganda has received over 1 million Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccines.