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India to deploy 2 medical teams in DR Congo, S Sudan to help combat COVID-19

India, which is among the largest troop contributors to UN peacekeeping, will deploy two medical teams in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan after a request by UN chief Antonio Guterres to scale-up health infrastructure in the areas managed by the Indian peacekeepers to help contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

India’s Permanent Mission to the UN said in a statement that the country responded to a request from UN Secretary-General Guterres and mobilized all efforts to assemble two teams of medical specialists to be deployed in hospitals at the UN missions in DR Congo and South Sudan.

“This gesture has been welcomed,” the Indian mission said.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti on Friday tweeted: “Indian peacekeepers rise to the call to combat COVID! In response to the request of UN Secretary-General, India is rushing two medical teams to Africa to strengthen Indian peacekeeping hospitals – one in Goma, DR Congo and other in Juba, South Sudan”.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world, the UN Secretariat has set up a System-Wide Medical Evacuation Task Force to ensure high-quality treatment facilities for people serving the United Nations in field locations.

Guterres has decided to scale-up the Level-2 and Level-3 hospital facilities, managed by the Indian peacekeepers, at the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to mitigate and contain the COVID-19 outbreak at these two locations.

Based on a request, India will be deploying two medical teams of 15 medical personnel each at Goma in the DRC and Juba in South Sudan in the second half of September, 2020.

The main hub of command and control centre of MONUSCO is located in Goma, where the hospital by India has been operational since January, 2005 and has 90 Indian nationals including 18 specialists.

Due to the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the area, the ‘Level-3′ facility, which is the highest level of medical care provided by a deployed UN unit, will now further be upgraded to a Level-3 Plus facility.

In Juba, the ‘Level-2 plus’ hospital by India, operational since December, 2016, has 77 Indians, including 12 specialists.

The Indian facility in Juba is presently one of the top-level of medical facilities existing in South Sudan. This facility will now be upgraded from Level-2 plus to a Level-3 facility.