UK, Finland and Thailand extend COVID-19 medical support to Nepal

By Laxman Datt Pant

UK, Finland and Thailand extend COVID-19 medical support to Nepal

To help Nepal fight the COVID-19 upsurge, the Government of the United Kingdom (UK), the Government of Finland (GoF), and the Kingdom of Thailand have provided medical equipment and supplies to the Government of Nepal (GoN). Facing a dire shortage of essential supplies, particularly oxygen, Nepal has been experiencing a huge increase in COVID-19 infections for the last month.

Nicola Pollitt, the Ambassador of the UK to Nepal, handed over medical equipment and supplies including 260 ventilators and 2,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to Hridayesh Tripathi, the Minister for Health and Population of Nepal, at a brief ceremony held at the Tribhuvan International Airport on May 28, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal announced. A charter flight carrying the medical consignment arrived in Kathmandu on May 28 and also carried oxygen concentrators donated by NepalMedUK, a charity organization based in the UK.

Thanking the British Government for extending the much-needed support, Minister Tripathi said, “This assistance from the UK is an example of the long history of the close and friendly relationship between Nepal and the UK including at the people’s level.”

Ambassador Pollitt also assured the Minister of continued British cooperation to Nepal.

  • The UK has worked closely with the GoN over the last few weeks during the acute health emergency and has provided a range of support measures
  • The support includes the funding of a £180,000 oxygen generation plant at the Nepal Police Hospital to help to tackle oxygen shortages
  • The oxygen from this plant is saving 150 lives a day in Nepal
  • British experts are helping the Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal with epidemiological analysis and designing warehouses for vaccine storage
  • The UK has also delivered medical equipment and PPE to COVID-19 hotspots in Nepal, including oxygen concentrators and ventilators to hospitals in Banke district where there is a particular need

This support has been provided to Nepal in response to a call for assistance from the GoN and is expected to help to meet Nepal’s currently most pressing needs.

On May 27, stating that the package of support would save lives and help to meet some of the country’s most acute needs, Dominic Raab, British Foreign Secretary said that the UK stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Nepal.

Similarly assuring Nepal of further support as needed, Matt Hancock, the UK’s Health and Social Care Secretary said, “The worsening situation in Nepal is immensely challenging and we are sending protective and life-saving equipment to keep people safe and support their health system.”

Recalling that the UK has an enduring defense relationship with Nepal, British Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace MP, said, “The Armed Forces are helping transport ventilators and other medical supplies to Nepal which will help our Nepalese friends through this crisis.”

Meanwhile, in addition to life-saving medical supplies, the UK has also sent two health experts to Nepal to work with the British Embassy in Kathmandu to assess how the UK can further support the GoN in its response to the pandemic.

Likewise, the GoF has offered support by way of medical equipment and supplies to the GoN. This arrived at TIA through a chartered flight dispatched by the Finnish Government and included 350,000 FFP2 masks, 100,000 KN95 masks, 232,500 gloves, 30,000 gowns, 2,498,000 facemasks, and 350,000 face shields.

In a separate program organized at TIA on May 28, Pertti Anttinen, Ambassador of Finland to Nepal, handed over the consignment to Minister Tripathi which was provided to Nepal in response to the GoN’s request to the GoF, communicated bilaterally as well as through the European Union’s Civil Protection Mechanism, to support Nepal with COVID-19 related vaccines and supplies.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, Thai Overseas Dhammaduta Bhikkhus, and Verapuchong Foundation, Thailand have provided 46 oxygen concentrators to Nepal. Vosita Vorasaph, Ambassador of Thailand to Nepal, handed these over to a senior official of the MoHP during a brief ceremony held at the TIA on May 28.

Subsequently, on May 30, Ambassador Vorasaph also handed over additional emergency medical supplies to Minister Tripathi at TIA. This additional medical material included surgical masks, PPE sets, face shields, rapid antigen test kits, and oximeters that were provided by the King and royal family members of Thailand.