Delivering as One: UN in Sierra Leone Jointly Construct COVID-19 Treatment Center

July 7, 2020

The joint UN-supported treatment center in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Freetown Sierra Leone: A specialized Corona Virus (COVID-19) treatment center at the 34 Military Hospital – the main hospital treating COVID-19 cases in Sierra Leone, was commissioned commissioned by the United Nations on 29 May 2020.

The United Nations (UN) in Sierra Leone successfully constructed and handed over the treatment centre to the Government of Sierra Leone as part of the UN support to the national COVID-19 response.

The 13-bed treatment centre is dedicated to attending to severe cases confirmed with the virus and it is tailored to suit the needs of both health workers and the patients.

This joint effort by the UN agencies represents the shared mission of the UN family to deliver as one in the framework to support national governments. The agencies provided either financial and or technical support with overall funding support received from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).

UNDP led the way in developing a Memorandum of Understanding with the 34 Military Hospital; UNFPA provided the overall coordination, technical leadership and with funding from DfID for the construction of the specialized treatment centre costing approximately $120,000; WFP provided technical leadership in the design and the on-the-ground execution of the project, and also provided the huge ‘Rubb Hall’ tent under which the facility was constructed; WHO provided technical guidance to ensure adherence to quality standards; The Health Manager of the UN Joint Medical Services provided on-site technical support throughout the process.

“This treatment centre is just one part of the UN support to the COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts in Sierra Leone.  In addition to the public health response, we are also supporting, together with many other partners, food and nutrition, water and sanitation and socio-economic recovery. The last part covers work in many different sectors to help mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic and to allow society to recover from the pandemic – to build back better.” said Mr. Sunil Saigal, the UN’s Resident Coordinator as he handed over the center to government authorities.

Mr. Saigal further declared that, “While we are still refining our figures, we initially estimate the collective UN Response [in Sierra Leone] at over $ 150 million.” This amount includes activities and resources within the existing UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, which agencies were able to rapidly realign from their planned annual budgets, as well as funding being requested under the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan.”

The Country Director of DfID, Kobi Bentley, expressed delight for DFID “to have played a role in establishing this treatment centre at Military 34 hospital.” She further reechoed the call for solidarity against the pandemic, “As the world faces the unprecedented challenge of coronavirus, we must work together…We will help to maintain vital health services and to tackle coronavirus through the Saving Lives in Sierra Leone programme and our partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone and the UN.”

The treatment center is now operational and the National COVID-19 Response Center leadership and the staff and the surrounding communities of the 34 Military Hospital are grateful for the support.