The United Kingdom said on Thursday it would invest up to £ 20 million in the African Union's new "Africa anti-COVID-19 fund" to slow the spread of coronavirus and save lives.
The British High Commission in Nigeria said in a statement that the funding was announced by the UK's Secretary for International Development, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
According to the statement, this makes the UK the largest national donor to the fund, announced last month by Cyril Ramaphosa, president of the African Union (AU) and president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.
He said the funds would support African leaders and technical experts to slow the spread of the coronavirus and save lives in Africa and the world.
He said the fund would tackle the pandemic by recruiting African health experts and deploying them where they are most needed, thereby strengthening global pandemic tracking.
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He noted that it would also combat potentially harmful misinformation by providing specialists with coronavirus training for healthcare professionals and making information about the virus more accessible to the public.
“As the UK faces its greatest peacetime challenge in the fight against coronavirus, it has never been more important to work with our partners in Africa to fight disease.
"Nobody is safe until we are all safe and this new funding and support for African leadership will help protect all of us in the UK, Africa and around the world against the spread of the virus," said Trevelyan, according to the statement.
She said the fund would also promote an evidence-based approach to coronavirus surveillance, diagnosis, treatment and control in Africa.
Speaking about the contribution, the British High Commissioner in Nigeria, Catriona Laing said: "The true global scale of the current crisis means that international cooperation and solidarity are more important than ever".
She said the UK's £ 20m contribution to the African Union would provide important additional support to Nigeria and other African countries.
The British High Commission said it was proof of the fact that the United Kingdom is side by side with Nigeria in its collective challenge to defeat the terrible virus.
“This new support for the African Union comes after the United Kingdom has already promised more than $ 900 million to the international fight against the coronavirus.
“The UK is also using its existing aid programs to help vulnerable countries in Africa to strengthen their health systems.
“It also leads the UK, which will host the Virtual Global Vaccine Summit on June 4, to secure future funding from 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 starting to see exponential increases in case numbers, posing a serious risk to fragile health systems," said Laing.
She noted that the high prevalence of HIV, malnutrition and other diseases in parts of Africa can also worsen the impact of the virus.
Laing said that in Sub-Saharan Africa, there were an average of just two doctors for every 10,000 people, compared with 28 per 10,000 in the UK.
“If health systems are overloaded, it will be difficult to slow the worldwide spread of the virus, risking new waves of infection.
“The UK's contribution to the Africa anti-COVID-19 fund will prevent this, working in partnership with the AU to help fight the virus, strengthen health systems and save lives in the 55 AU member states.
"Today's announcement raises the total contribution of UK aid to fighting coronavirus by up to 764 million pounds ($ 935.6 million)," she said.
Laing said the money would help find a vaccine, provide vital humanitarian aid, feed the world's poorest people, strengthen global health systems and manage the risk of a global economic crisis.