As part of U.S. European Command’s (USEUCOM) months-long, sustained effort to assist NATO Allies and partners continue to beat back the COVID-19 virus, several donations of critically-needed medical supplies and equipment were delivered across Europe in the past two weeks.
Since the height of the coronavirus pandemic, USEUCOM provided direct COVID-19 aid through 25 projects to 17 European nations crisscrossing the continent from Latvia to Greece and Italy to Azerbaijan.
This week in North Macedonia’s capital city of Skopje, a new ultrasound machine was donated and delivered to the Clinic for Infectious Diseases. Serving as the country’s primary government-run medical facility to hospitalize and treat COVID-19 positive patients, this support was coordinated by USEUCOM and funded through the U.S. Defense Department’s Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid Appropriation (OHDACA). Ultrasound machines have been vital to monitor patients’ respiratory systems, especially in intensive care.
“For U.S. European Command, coming to the aid of our Allies and partners to fight this pandemic was as straightforward a decision as bringing our forces to bear to protect and defend any of the 51 nations across the theater,” said U.S. Army Col. Samuel K. Simpson, USEUCOM’s civil partnership division chief. “The fact that this threat is an invisible virus only altered our weapons. Instead of tanks, fighter jets and frigates, our weapons of choice became PPE, ultrasound machines, respirators and medical tests.”
One of the pandemic’s hardest hit nations in Europe, Italy, received another two deliveries of disease prevention and control equipment coordinated by USEUCOM, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) and the Office of Defense Cooperation in America’s embassy in Rome and consulate in Naples. A new ultrasound machine was donated to the Italian coastal city of Gaeta on June 17. On June 25 in a ceremony in Naples, NAVEUR Commander Adm. James G. Foggo presented medical supplies and equipment to Campania’s president Vincenzo De Luca. Both of those donation deliveries were OHDACA-funded initiatives.
In addition to the $10 million assistance package that the President of the United States ordered in April to aid Italy’s COVID-19 fight, nearly $380,000 worth of excess military medical equipment has been donated to Italy.
Directly supporting the Italian regional government of Campania, home of NAVEUR in regional capital city Naples, the excess medical equipment assisted in mitigating the effects of COVID-19. Given the overstretched medical sector, this equipment proved vital in helping patients recover, while simultaneously building capacity for any future potential outbreaks. This donation included medical monitors and other medical equipment and supplies for an array of hospitals across Campania’s medical authority. Working with the U.S. Consulate in Naples, NAVEUR coordinated donation deliveries.
In Armenia’s north, nearly 150 infrared thermometers were donated to kindergartens in the Lori and Shirak regions to assist in protecting and slowing the spread of COVID-19 among young, school-aged children. Delivered on June 16, this USEUCOM-coordinated, OHDACA-funded project will allow the safe continued operation of public educational institutions for three- to six-year-old Armenian children.
COVID-19 control and prevention equipment, including 640 chemical resistant gloves, nearly 300 protective suits, 320 medical overboots and a state-of-the-art ultraviolet disinfection device, was delivered to Slovenia’s Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, the country’s lead emergency management agency, to help protect the country’s frontline healthcare professionals.
Working with the disaster relief agency, along with Slovenia’s ministries of defense and health, the U.S. Embassy in Ljubljana identified equipment needs, then sought out local vendors and manufacturers capable of fulfilling those needs.
“Because the U.S. military has the utmost respect for our Slovenian partners and our longstanding defense relationship, U.S. European Command did not hesitate when we asked what support they might be able to provide to Slovenia’s efforts to control the outbreak,” said U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda C. Blanchard during the June 15 donation delivery ceremony at Slovenia’s University Medical Center in capital city Ljubljana.
“The health and well-being of our European friends and Allies is equally important to regional security and stability as our command’s ability to provide mission-ready and capable fighting forces, if that need ever arises,” Simpson added. “While our COVID-19 support mission is not yet completed, we are extraordinarily committed to defeating this invisible threat.”