Astronomers and doctors of Radboud University support Covid care in Namibia

The Radboud University and Radboud University Medical Center are sending four ventilators to Namibia, which is severely affected by Covid-19. The country is in the midst of a third wave of the corona pandemic and the number of infections continues to rise.

In the summer of 2019, there was a successful test with a mobile planetarium in Namibia. (c) Radboud University
In the summer of 2019, there was a successful test with a mobile planetarium in Namibia. (c) Radboud University

Astronomers from Radboud University have been collaborating with colleagues from the University of Namibia (UNAM) for several years to build the Africa Millimeter Telescope (AMT) at the Gamsberg mountain. They care deeply about Namibia. Together with the Radboud University Medical Center, they have started an action to send medical equipment to Namibia to help with the fight against Covid-19.

Prof. Kenneth Matengu, vice-chancellor of UNAM, told the team that eleven staff members and five students of the university have died in the past two weeks. The situation in the rest of the country is no better.

"We cannot be idle while the virus causes so much suffering. We have to do something!" says Dr. Marc Klein Wolt, Managing Director of the AMT.

Consultation with Embassy and consul
In consultation with the Embassy of Namibia in Brussels and the honorary consul of Namibia in the Netherlands, the team of astronomers and medical experts at Radboud joined forces to identify what help is currently needed in Namibia and what expertise and equipment the partners can provide.

Radboud University Medical Centre has offered to donate four ventilators to UNAM. On Wednesday 7 July, the equipment will be on its way to Katutura Hospital in Windhoek, with which UNAM has close ties. Also after this first action, consultations will continue with UNAM, the Namibian diplomatic representatives in Europe, and the team at Radboud in order to continuously assess what help is needed, and how Radboud’s astronomers and medical experts can contribute.

Contributing to this project
Prof. Heino Falcke, co-founder of the Event Horizon Telescope and the AMT: "The preparation of a scientific experiment is never just about instruments and facilities. It is also about people, human connections and partnerships. In a situation like this, it is impossible to stand by while a disaster unfolds. There is a time to do science, and a time to help each other to save as many lives as possible. This is clearly the time to help in any way we can."

Anybody who wants to support Radboud University and the Radboud University Medical Center to fight Covid-19 can make a donation through the Radboud Fund for research into the corona virus, and to purchase resources to help Namibia fight this pandemic.

Africa Millimeter Telescope
Since 2015, Radboud University and the University of Namibia have been working together on the construction of a radio telescope on the Gamsberg in Namibia: the Africa Millimeter Telescope. The telescope will become part of the Event Horizon Telescope Network, which was used to take the first image of a black hole in 2019. The radio telescope is expected to be ready for scientific observations around 2025.

Social impact
Besides its focus on pioneering science, the AMT project also aims to strengthen the social and economic impact that the installation of the radio telescope will have in Namibia. For example, the project aims to tour the country with a mobile planetarium to inspire local children by introducing them to science, the Earth and the universe. To realize this program, the Radboud Fund has set up a crowdfunding campaign.

Source: press release Radboud University