The United State of America had authorized partner countries, including Rwanda, to utilize equipment previously delivered for deployments to international peacekeeping missions to be temporarily utilized for domestic COVID-19 response.
In an interview with Assistant Secretary of State R. Clarke Cooper, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State, he said that the 20 bed, level-two facilities was deployed in Rwanda in April through the US-African peacekeeping rapid response partnership.
Assistant Secretary of State R Clarke Cooper. Photo: Washington Blade/Michael Key
He said that the facility that would be used for a battalion size element, will provide overflow capacity and open up more space for COVID-19 patients, if necessary, it would be available to treat COVID-19 patients. "A level two hospital can cover everything from surgeries, laboratory work, general internal medicine and dental work. it’s a full hospital, but it is not large like a general hospital in the sense that it could have a significant amount of overnight patients. So far, what we’re seeing in Kigali and in some other places it’s use as either an overflow or a place where treatment for things other than COVID could take place," he told NONAHA.
Rwanda is benefiting from these facilities as one of contributors in UN missions. The country has more than six thousands Rwandan personnel deployed to four missions globally. "So what we identified in Washington was looking at the peacekeeping contributing member States cycle. Rwanda, if they had assets that were not yet deployed to missions, was instead of keeping them warehoused have them used. So there’s a dual benefit of the hospital being used in Kigali, it’s keeping a skills up to date, certainly contributing to capacity building for combat medicine and medical support, but it’s also providing some relief where necessary for the civilian medical sector," he clarified.
Though, it’s unclear when exactly this temporally use will have an end, Mr. Cooper said it would be a condition based assessment.
A U.S.-provided United Nations-standard level 2 expeditionary hospital facility deployed outside Kigali, Rwanda for COVID-19 response. This field hospital was delivered in 2019 under the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership program. (U.S. Department of State photo)
Although the pandemic has been causing upheaval in all spheres in all countries around the world, Assistant Secretary of State, Cooper labelled the condition as interesting because it impacts everybody. "It impacts troops as much as it impacts Al Shabaab. So, everybody is impacted by this pandemic," he said.
Since fiscal year 2015, the U.S has invested more than $68.5 million to help build Rwanda’s peacekeeping capacities.
The government of Rwanda was not available for comments. As of June 16, the country has 612 confirmed cases of COVID-19, from whom 338 recovered and two died.