The Scottish Government has spent more than £270,000 on lifesaving oxygen equipment for three African countries.
Edinburgh-based charity Kids Operating Room will use the funding to distribute 100 oxygen concentrators each to Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia, where cases of Covid-19 are thought to be rising quickly.
The equipment will initially be used to treat patients suffering from breathing problems caused by the virus, and will then be used after the pandemic for general treatment.
The devices draw oxygen from the atmosphere and concentrate it to therapeutic levels.
External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson said: “The Covid situation in Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia has become very serious, very quickly, and we know that the pressure on health services are putting great stress on their infrastructure, especially in relation to the delivery of oxygen to patients.
“This funding for oxygen concentrators will go some way to help ease the current stress on the health services in our three African partner countries, and we are delighted to work with Kids Operating Room to make sure this vital equipment is put to use as soon as possible.
“Scotland remains fully committed to playing our part in tackling shared global challenges, and we are committed to increase the International Development Fund by 50% to £15m.”
In a veiled attack on the UK Government, which survived a rebellion of Tory MPs this week to cut the proportion of national income spent on foreign aid, Robertson added: “As the global pandemic continues, we firmly believe this is not the time to turn our back on the poorest and those in dire need – instead, this is precisely the moment when we should be living up to our core values.”
Kids Operating Room chief executive David Cunningham added: “Our model is to listen to doctors, then give them what they need – right now, the message is coming back loud and clear that what they need is access to more oxygen to fight Covid-19.
“Oxygen concentrators are key pieces of equipment that are needed to meet the region’s critical oxygen shortage.
“They are suitable for all ages and durable for years to come post-Covid, making them incredibly essential to support the health services in the long-term.”