Editor’s note, 3.22.20: This story has been updated to include information on the donated supplies’ arrival in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Editor’s note, 4.06.20: This story has been updated with information about additional supplies donated by the foundations.
Editor’s note, 4.20.20: This story has been updated with information on a third round of donations.
In ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus and provide aid to afflicted communities across the globe, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation on March 16 committed to donating 100,000 medical masks, 20,000 test kits and 1,000 protective suits to each of the 54 nations on the African continent.
On his personal Twitter page, Alibaba Group Founder Jack Ma stressed the importance of staying one step ahead as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic continue to ripple across the globe.
“We cannot ignore the potential risk to Africa and assume this continent of 1.3 billion people will blissfully escape the crisis,” he said, adding, “we can take precautions now and get prepared ahead of time, as Africa can benefit from the experience and lessons from other countries that were earlier hit hard by the virus.”
The medical supplies donated by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation will be delivered to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has agreed to take the lead in overseeing their distribution to other African countries. The foundations also announced plans to provide online training materials to help medical institutions in Africa cope with coronavirus cases.
More than 6 million donated supplies arrived in Addis Ababa on March 22. Additional batches are due to arrive over the course of the next few weeks.
WATCH: Donated supplies is shipped from China to Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s position as a partner of the Electronic World Trade Platform – an Alibaba-led initiative that strives to create a more inclusive global economy – will play a key role in ensuring the onward transportation and distribution of the medical goods across the continent. The eWTP’s hub in Rwanda will also be leveraged for this purpose.
“Like so many other areas of life, the pandemic has brought about new challenges for the global movement of goods. With our technology and eWTP hubs, we are doing our utmost to quickly deliver these donations, so the supplies can reach those who need them most,” said Juntao Song, the secretary general of the eWTP.
Alongside their collaborations with the Ethiopian Government and the country’s eWTP, the foundations also worked closely with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations World Food Programme and Ethiopian Airlines in the delivery of the donated items.
On April 6, the foundations announced that they would donate additional medical supplies to the countries of Africa. These include 500 ventilators, 200,000 suits and face shields, 2,000 thermometers, 1 million swabs and extraction kits, and 500,000 gloves. A further donation, including 4.6 million masks, 500,000 swabs and test kits, 300 ventilators and 200,000 clothing sets among other supplies, was announced on April 20 to the Africa CDC and African Union.
Aside from offering support to African nations, the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation have also donated medical supplies to other countries hardest hit by the virus, including Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and countries across Europe and Asia. The foundations have also provided funding to establishments such as the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia and Columbia University in the U.S. to support research into coronavirus vaccines and treatment.
Addressing the need to share resources and knowledge to combat the health crisis, Ma tweeted: “As members of the global community, it would be irresponsible of us to sit on the fence, panic, ignore facts or fail to act. We need to take action now!”
For more coverage on Jack Ma Foundation’s coronavirus-relief efforts, click here.