BRITAIN revealed that it will be contributing a modest £20m to the African Union’s (AU) Africa Anti-Covid-19 Fund launched to help the continent combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic currently ravaging the globe.
Although Africa has largely been spared the worst excesses of the global pandemic, the continent is suffering from a lack of manufacturing capacity, leading to a lack of equipment. Because developing nations need most of what they manufacture themselves, Africa has struggled to get hold of equipment such as testing kits, ventilators and facemasks.
Also, the continent is suffering immensely from the global economic shutdown as it has been unable to export its primary products, which it relies on for survival. To deal with this plethora of problems, the AU has launched a special fund and asked international donors to contribute to it.
According to the British high commission in Nigeria the £20m funding was announced by UK international development secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan. This makes the UK the largest national donor to the fund which was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the AU chairperson of and South Africa leader.
These funds will be used to support African leaders and technical experts to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives across the continent. Among other things, they will be used to recruit African health experts and deploy them where they are needed most, thereby strengthening global tracking of the pandemic.
Ms Trevelyan said: “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,
She added that the fund would also promote an evidence-based approach for surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and control of coronavirus in Africa. Catriona Laing, the British high commissioner to Nigeria added that the contribution is testament to the fact that the UK stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Nigeria in its collective challenge to defeat the terrible virus.
Ms Laing added: “The truly global scale of the current crisis means that international cooperation and solidarity is more important than ever. This new support for the African Union comes after the UK has already pledged over $900m 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.”
She noted that the high prevalence of HIV, malnutrition and other illnesses in parts of Africa may also worsen the impact of the virus. Ms Laing said that in sub-Saharan Africa, there were on average just two doctors for every 10,000 people, compared with 28 per 10,000 in the UK.
According to Ms Laing, the British £20m 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. She added that if healthcare systems become overwhelmed, the worldwide spread of the virus will be difficult to slow, risking new waves of infection.