THE United Kingdom has announced that it would invest about £20 million in the ‘Africa anti-COVID-19 fund’ as part of her contribution to efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives on the continent.
By the donation, UK’s aid contribution to fighting coronavirus to up to £764 million ($935.6 million),” and makes it the largest national donor to the fund, which the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) and South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa, announced by last month.
It is expected that the funds would support African leaders and technical experts to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives in Africa and worldwide.
The fund, which would facilitate the recruitment of African health experts and ensure their deployment to areas where they are most needed would also be used to combat misinformation, providing specialist with coronavirus training for health workers and making information about the virus more accessible to the public.
The statement noted: “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.”
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 UK contribution to the African Union would provide important support to Nigeria and other African countries.
Laing emphasized that the donation was a confirmation that the UK stands with Nigeria in their collective challenge to defeat the virus.
She said: “This new support for the African Union comes after the UK has pledged over US$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.”
She fears that the impact of Africa may worsen due to the prevalence of HIV, malnutrition and other illnesses, coupled with the fact that isub-Saharan Africa boasts on average two doctors for every 10,000 people, compared to 28 per 10,000 in the UK.
Laing fears that, “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.