United Kingdom has said it wil invest up to £20 million in the African Union’s new “Africa anti-COVID-19 fund” to slow down the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
The British High Commission in Nigeria said in a statement on Thursday, May 21, 2020 that the funding was announced by UK International Development Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
According to the statement, this makes the UK the largest national donor to the fund which was announced by Chairperson of the African Union (AU) and South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa, last month.
It said that the funds would support African leaders and technical experts to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives in Africa and worldwide.
It said that the fund would tackle the pandemic by recruiting African health experts and deploying them where they are needed most thereby strengthening global tracking of the pandemic.
It noted that it would also combat potentially harmful misinformation, providing specialist with coronavirus training for health workers and making information about the virus more accessible to the public.
“As the UK faces its biggest peacetime challenge in tackling coronavirus, it’s never been more important to work with our partners in Africa to fight disease.
“No one is safe until we are all safe and this new funding and support for African leadership will help protect us all in the UK, Africa and around the world from further spread of the virus,” Trevelyan was quoted as saying in the statement.
She said the fund would also promote an evidence-based approach for surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and control of coronavirus in Africa.
Speaking on the contribution, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, said: “The truly global scale of the current crisis means that international cooperation and solidarity is more important than ever.”
She said that the £20 million UK funding contribution to the African Union would provide important additional support to Nigeria and other countries across Africa.
The British High Commissioner said that it was testament to the fact that the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria in their collective challenge to defeat the terrible virus.
“This new support for the African Union comes after the UK has already pledged over $900 million to the international fight against coronavirus.
“The UK is also using its existing aid programmes to help vulnerable countries in Africa to strengthen their health systems.
“It also comes ahead of the UK hosting the virtual Global Vaccine Summit on June 4, to secure future funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which has already saved the lives of millions of children in Africa from infectious diseases
“Many countries on the continent are beginning to see exponential increases in case numbers, presenting a severe risk to fragile healthcare systems,”Laing said.
She noted that the high prevalence of HIV, malnutrition and other illnesses in parts of Africa may also worsen the impact of the virus.
Laing said that, in sub-Saharan Africa, there were on average just two doctors for every 10,000 people, compared to 28 per 10,000 in the UK.
“If healthcare systems become overwhelmed, the worldwide spread of the virus will be difficult to slow, risking new waves of infection.
“The UK’s contribution to the Africa anti-COVID-19 fund will prevent this by working in partnership with the AU to help fight the virus, strengthen healthcare systems and save lives in the AU’s 55 member states.
“Today’s announcement brings the total UK aid contribution to fighting coronavirus to up to £764 million ($935.6 million),” she said.
Laing said the money would assist in finding a vaccine, providing vital humanitarian relief, feeding the world’s poorest people, strengthening global healthcare systems and managing the risk of a global economic downturn.
By Funmilola Gboteku