US boosts SA’s Covid-19 fight with R250m donation

US boosts SA's Covid-19 fight with R250m donation
NOVEMBER 13, 2019. U.S. Ambassador-designate to South Africa, Lana Marks hosts a press briefing, at the US Embassy in Sandton, Johannesburg. Marks speaks to the media about her priorities as she begins her tenure as the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa. This is the first time Ambassador-designate addresses the media. PHOTOGRAPH: ALON SKUY

The US government has donated R250m in support of SA’s efforts to fight the spread of coronavirus.

This brings to over $21.5m (R410m) the total committed by the US government to SA’s response to the pandemic, according to the US embassy in SA.

Announcing the financial support on Wednesday, US ambassador to SA Lana Marks said the US, through its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initially donated resources for surveillance and lab support, operational support, infection prevention and control, emergency operation centres, border health and vaccine preparedness and studies related to Covid-19 to improve the response in the country and to inform best practices around the globe.

Marks said the latest injection of assistance was in addition to the approximately $8.4m (nearly R160m) in health assistance already committed through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

“USAID’s funding is supporting work in strategic information, risk communication, water and sanitation, infection prevention and control, supply chain strengthening for Covid-19 commodities and public health messaging,” she said.

“It is an honour for the United States to partner in SA’s campaign to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, just as we have stood side-by-side with South Africa for 17 years in the campaign to control the HIV/Aids epidemic.”

She said the funding announcement built on decades of US government leadership as “the world’s most generous provider” of bilateral assistance in global health.

Marks noted that since 2009, US taxpayers had generously contributed globally more than $170bn (R3.2-trillion) in health and humanitarian assistance.

In South Africa alone, through the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, the US invested more than R80bn over the course of a 17-year partnership, she said.

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