CORONAVIRUS

US adds almost $2m to SA’s fight against Covid-19

By Peter Fabricius 17 April 2020

A healthcare worker checks a man during door-to-door screening for Covid-19. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Jaco Marais)

The US will increase its funding to South Africa’s fight against the coronavirus by $1.8m, bringing the total to $2.77m.

The US embassy in Pretoria announced increased funding to South Africa for its response to the coronavirus on Thursday, saying it would support the South African government’s critical needs, including surveillance rapid response, case management and risk communication about the pandemic.

This was part of a comprehensive US effort to help SA combat the virus. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was already providing technical assistance to SA’s National Department of Health and National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) to contain the virus and mitigate its impact in South Africa.

This included public health experts helping the two institutions develop guidelines for risk communication, identification, isolation, testing and contact tracing for people who may be infected by the virus. The US CDC was also helping the SA government estimate the disease burden, risk factors and transmission dynamics to help stop transmission of the virus. US CDC staff were working in South Africa with the health department and NICD. 

The US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) efforts to develop lab and clinic systems, modelling and surveillance and health worker training were also providing critical support to South Africa’s Covid-19 response. More than 5,000 PEPFAR-supported community healthcare workers would add door-to-door Covid-19 screening to their HIV adherence activities.

“The funding announcement builds upon decades of US government leadership as the world’s most generous provider of bilateral assistance in global health,” the embassy said.

It said that since 2009 the US had provided more than US$100-billion in health assistance and nearly US$70-billion in humanitarian assistance globally. This was also helping recipient countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, through PEPFAR, the US had invested more than R80-billion in South Africa over the past 17 years. This had helped create the world’s largest HIV response programme.

PEPFAR’s long-term efforts in the development of lab and clinic systems, modelling and surveillance and health worker training were proving critical to South Africa’s rapid Covid-19 response. DM

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