A SENIOR figure in the Welsh Conservative party has said that the decision to send personal protective equipment (PPE) from Wales to Namibia “raises some eyebrows”.
Last week, first minister Mark Drakeford announced £7 million worth of PPE is being sent to the stricken African nation, which was estimated to have the highest daily death rate from covid globally in July.
Along with the virus itself, Namibia has been dealing with a long-term drought problem caused by climate change – and the resulting water shortage has made hand sanitising an even greater challenge in the battle against the deadly disease.
In addition to the supplies, it is believed that Wales is also supplying Namibia with £500,000 to assist in its efforts to conquer Covid-19.
But, while Welsh Conservative shadow health minister, Russell George agreed that help should be given where needed, he questioned the decision to send supplies to a nation “often accused of being besieged by corruption”.
Continuing, the MS for Montgomeryshire said that the decision “will raise some eyebrows” – arguing that the Welsh Labour government has often claimed that resources this side of the border are stretched.
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However, when news of the Welsh Government’s gift was announced at an NHS facility in Newport last week, Mr Drakeford stressed that offering masks, visors, sanitiser and other similar items to Namibia would not impact on Welsh supply. He said: “The issues we had in the very earliest days of coronavirus in Wales have been well overcome.
“The warehouse we are in has literally millions of items of PPE for the use in our own NHS, and in our own social care system.
“And because of the systems that we have been able to set up, we now are in a position to be able to offer some millions of items to other parts of the world, particularly where we have strong partnerships, and particularly where the need is greatest.”
In spite of these assurances, Mr George has called on Welsh Government ministers to confirm that Wales has enough PPE for our own use, and to ensure that resources given to Namibia are allocated correctly, and “not lost in someone’s back pocket.”
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Statement from the Welsh Conservatives in full
In a statement sent to the Argus, Welsh Conservative shadow health minister, Russell George said: “As a United Kingdom we should always seek to help those worse off.
“Labour’s decision to spend half a million pounds and send £7 million worth of PPE to a country that is often accused of being besieged by corruption will raise some eyebrows at home, particularly when ministers in Cardiff Bay regularly claim resources are stretched and blame the UK Government.
“As we move into the more challenging seasons of autumn and winter, Welsh Government ministers must confirm we have a plentiful supply of PPE in Wales and that the money given to Namibia is guaranteed to be used for the purposes set out, not lost in someone’s back pocket.”