By Adedayo Akinwale
The United Kingdom has announced that it will invest up to £20 million in the African Union’s new ‘Africa anti-COVID 19 fund’ to tackle coronavirus and save lives.
The announcement brings the total UK aid contribution to fighting coronavirus to £764 million, which it said is helping to find 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.
The UK embassy, in a statement issued on Thursday, said that the fund would tackle the pandemic by recruiting African health experts and deploying them where they are needed most, while also strengthening global tracking of the pandemic, combatting potentially harmful misinformation, providing specialist coronavirus training for health workers and making information about the virus more accessible to the public.
The UK noted that the fund would equally support African leaders and technical experts to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives in Africa and worldwide.
The statement quoted International Development Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, while announcing the funding on Wednesday, that as the UK faces its biggest peacetime challenge in tackling coronavirus, it has never been more important to work with her partners in Africa to fight disease.
Trevelyan added: “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.”
Also, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, said the UK funding contribution to the AU would provide important additional support to Nigeria and other countries across Africa, stressing that it was a testament to the fact that the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria in its collective challenge to defeat this terrible virus.
According to him, “The truly global scale of the current crisis means that international cooperation and solidarity is more important than ever.”
The new support for the AU, the UK government noted, comes after the UK has already pledged over $900 million to the international fight against coronavirus.
He said the UK is also using its existing aid programmes to help vulnerable countries in Africa to strengthen their health systems.