The UK has pledged its support to the African Union in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic after making a donation which was announced by Cyril Ramaphosa.
NAIROBI, Kenya – The UK will invest up to 2.6 Billion KES in the African Union’s new ‘Africa anti-COVID 19 Fund’ to tackle coronavirus and save lives.
This makes the UK the largest national donor to the fund, which was announced by Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the African Union (AU) and President of the Republic of South Africa last month. It will support African leaders and technical experts to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives in Africa and worldwide.
The fund will tackle the pandemic by recruiting African health experts and deploying them where they are needed most, strengthening global tracking of the pandemic, combatting potentially harmful misinformation, providing specialist coronavirus training for health workers and making information about the virus more accessible to the public.
The fund was announced by International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan
“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,” she said.
“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.”
British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott said, “The UK stands with Kenya as we fight this threat together. The African Union, and their public health agency Africa CDC, are at the forefront of the continental response, providing strong African-led leadership and technical advice from which we all stand to benefit.
“I am proud the UK is now the largest international donor to the African Union’s Anti Covid-19 fund, committing 2.6 billion KES today to save lives in Kenya and across the African Union”.
In Kenya, the AU CDC has supported the COVID-19 response through the donation of laboratory test kits including an initial donation of 1,400 kits, following the first reported confirmed cases.
The announcement follows calls between Minister for Africa James Duddridge, AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga and AU Commissioner for Social Affairs Amira El-Fadil in which they discussed the risks Africa faces from the pandemic and how the UK is working with partners on the continent to tackle these shared global issues.
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 4th June, 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. The high prevalence of HIV, malnutrition, and other illnesses in parts of Africa may also worsen the impact of the virus. In sub-Saharan Africa, there are on average just 2 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-coronavirus 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 99 billion KES ($935.6 million). This money is helping to find 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.