By Phephile Motau | 2021-02-01

Mbabane- A total of 28 health professionals are in the country to help Eswatini deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes after Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi requested emergency medical teams from the World Health Organisation.

The number includes a team of 11 deployed by the United Kingdom (UK) government and 17 who have been sent by the WHO. According to, the team will provide support and specialist expertise in hospitals that are battling the coronavirus pandemic.

EMTs are teams of health professionals that provide direct clinical care to people affected by emergencies and disasters, and support local health systems.

The UK team is made up of 11 experts who include critical care doctors, critical care infection prevention and control nurses, biomedical engineer, logistician and risk communications and community engagement advisor.

“We feel really honoured and privileged to benefit from this support provided by the government and the people of the United Kingdom through the UK Emergency Medical Team, also known as UK-EMT,” said the minister of health in a statement.

Nkosi said from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK-EMT had been supporting global responses through the deployment of specialist staff to the ministries of health, WHO Secretariat, WHO country offices, as well as other UN agencies such as IOM.

“Apart from Eswatini, other African countries that have benefitted from UK-EMT support include Ghana, Zambia, Burkina Faso, South Africa, and Chad,” Nkosi said.

She added that these teams would be deployed in the bigger hospitals that are taking care of moderate and severely ill COVID-19 patients, including those on oxygen and those on ventilators.

“They will help our clinicians to improve their clinical skills and medical systems in the COVID-19 management.

They will also help us identify major gaps in our health systems and what we can do best with the resources we have,” the minister said. Nkosi said the teams would be hands-on, working in close relationship with national health counterparts in the treatment facilities, providing on the job training and mentoring on effective case management and guidance for high quality and technically sound context specific national COVID19 response activities.

She said the teams would also support the ministry of health to assess and ensure that critical case management equipment is functional and are efficiently deployed for the COVID-19 response, especially the area of oxygen demand and supply.


According to the statement on the government website, the team of 11, which includes four British medics, flew from London Heathrow on Saturday.

It was also stated that the EMT’s travel to support the Eswatini ministry of health was considered essential business on behalf of the UK Government.

Minister for Africa, James Duddridge is reported to have said that the UK EMT would save lives by using their world-leading specialist expertise and skills to make sure medics in Eswatini are best equipped to treat those seriously sick with coronavirus.

“We stand by the people of Eswatini in the battle to bring this outbreak under control. This dreadful disease does not respect borders, and none of us are safe until we are all safe,” he reportedly said.

The UK EMT Team Leader Andy Kent said UK-Med as part of the UK EMT was proud to be able to support the people of Eswatini in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the statement, the EMT was a partnership of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, emergency health NGO UK-Med, NGO Humanity and Inclusion, the UK Fire and Rescue Service and Palladium.

Minister Nkosi further thanked the continued support from WHO Regional Director Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, who has deployed 17 additional critical care doctors, critical care nurses and biomedical technicians for the COVID-19 response in Eswatini.

The delivery of the country’s vaccine is expected around next month. This was confirmed by Minister Nkosi. Nkosi said preparations for the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine were progressing very well.

She added that Eswatini had been allocated a vaccine through the COVAX facility and delivery is expected around March depending on the finalisation of the WHO Emergency Use Listing of the vaccine.

“The good news is that the African Union has secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca for African Union member States, including Eswatini, through its COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) and the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP),” she said.

Nkosi also urged Emaswati to stick to the tried, tested and proven measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including washing of hands regularly, wearing face masks, maintaining social distance, avoiding crowded places, closed spaces with poor ventilation and close contact settings.

“This is the time to stand together. Let us stop the suffering and pain. Together we can succeed,” Nkosi said.

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