The United States government is committing additional funds to support South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the US embassy to South Africa said in a statement on Thursday (16 April).
The total funding commitment from the US now stands at approximately $2,770,000 (R51.5 million). Previously the United States government committed $970,000, including the first $500,000 announced on 11 March, to the Covid-19 response in South Africa, the embassy said.
“Today’s announcement provides an additional $1.8 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Emergency Reserve Fund,” it said.
“This funding will support the South African government’s critical needs, including surveillance rapid response, case management, and risk communication.”
The embassy said that the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also providing technical assistance to South Africa’s National Department of Health (NDoH) and National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).
This support will be focused on containing the spread of this virus and mitigating its impact in South Africa, it said.
“These efforts include work by public health experts to assist our partners in developing guidelines for risk communication, identification, isolation, testing, and contact tracing for persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19.
“The US CDC is also developing a virus shedding protocol to estimate disease burden, risk factors, and transmission dynamics, which will help inform public health protocols to stop transmission of the disease and save lives.
“On the frontline, the US CDC has deployed staff to the NDoH and NICD to support data entry activities and support at the provincial level.”
The announcement comes after US president Donald Trump made the controversial decision to cut funding to the World Health Organisation for a perceived failure to control the coronavirus.
In a statement on Thursday (16 April), the South African government said that it was is ‘very concerned’ and ‘alarmed’ by the announcement.
“It is alarming that this very regrettable decision is announced as this deadly virus strikes Africa and the poorest and most vulnerable states,” it said.
“The WHO, as the lead UN Agency, is mandated to promote health and to ensure universal health coverage globally, is tasked to lead global efforts to suppress the transmission and stop the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is the sole global health agency, with the core focus on universal healthcare. As such, its efforts to coordinate a genuinely global response against this scourge should be recognized and supported.”