ISTAT News | 28 August 2020
COVID-19 Grant Recipient Spotlight: Aviation Sans Frontières (ASF) - Switzerland
Not even a month after the WHO called Covid-19 a pandemic and lockdown started in Europe, a first air shipment of medicine mobilized by the international NGO ASF - Switzerland from the International Health Partner Foundation in the UK (IHP), worth € 62,525 was received by Peace Nobel Prize Dr. Mukwege in Panzi hospital, Eastern DR Congo.
That was the start of Aviation Sans Frontières (ASF) Covid-19 project, set up in just a few days following the grounding of ASF’s last mile humanitarian air support operations in war torn countries such as DR Congo and Central African Republic.
One can wonder how ASF-Switzerland, a young Chapter of the ASF-International family (Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, UK, and US), was able to be in touch with Dr. Mukwege, who has performed surgery for years to help women victims of rape in the turmoil of wars in East DRC. And how ASF was so fast to set up a successful new project, turning a crisis into an opportunity, while its core activity was stranded.
Luckily, ASF had already decided in 2018 to pool operational and financial resources for international shared projects within three ASF Hubs: ASF Air Operations Hub ‘’Orly’’, ASF Project Management Hub ‘’Brussels’’ and ASF Logistics Hub ‘’Frankfurt’’. ASF-Switzerland, a newcomer at that time, had played a remarkable advocacy role for this re-engineering of ASF-International.
Early this year, ASF Project Management Hub ‘’Brussels’’ was working on a project aiming at providing on demand last mile aerial support to Panzi hospital mobile medical teams in the province of South-Kivu, due to the insecurity situation prevailing in this region. The idea was to use local air operators presenting every guarantee required in terms of air safety. But Covid-19 came abruptly.
ASF sections considered their assets which consisted mainly of reliable and trustful partners such as IHP and Panzi hospital, as well as an outstanding generous support from the public. ASF leveraged new and existing partnerships and helped to create new synergies between them, involving air freighters, medicine providers, tent suppliers and even the Belgian manufacturer of a new Covid-19 rapid test developed in collaboration with European universities.
Funds were badly needed to embark into this new venture. ASF has decided then to take a certain degree of risk commensurate with the extraordinary nature of the Covid-19 crisis, investing in large fund raising campaigns towards the public while the population was directly hit by the Covid-19 crisis financial effects. The public reacted very generously to such endeavors, encouraging ASF to launch the project and seek for institutional funds such as the ISTAT Foundation Covid-19 Relief Grant.
As of today, this ASF joint venture has allowed the mobilization, purchase and airlift to Burkina Faso and DRC of €156,268 of medicine for the symptomatic management of Covid-19 patients, €36,000 of Covid-19 tests, and €12,000 of medical tents as well as laboratory equipment.