The Coronavirus Response of the European Union: over 3 Billion Euros for Africa, with Millions Already Being Spent in Prevention and Response Support to South Sudan
Juba – The European Union (EU) and its Member States’ global COVID-19 response will provide substantial support to partner countries’ efforts to tackle the virus and deal with its impact with an overall financial support amounting to more than €20 billion. The EU will provide financial support to partner countries in Africa worth €3.25 billion (euros).
In South Sudan, the EU with its Member States is playing a major part in supporting the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic and in preparing to mitigate its consequences. The country’s health system and infrastructure are already supported by the EU and its Member States but these facilities need to be urgently strengthened to appropriately manage COVID-19 cases and prevent further spread of the virus across the country.
The EU’s collective action will focus on supporting preparedness capacities, addressing the immediate health crisis and the resulting humanitarian needs, strengthening partner countries’ health, water and sanitation systems and building their research capacities to deal with the pandemic, as well as mitigating its socioeconomic impact.
The EU, via its humanitarian office ECHO, already provides €1.5 million to WHO in South Sudan for nationwide surveillance and control of infectious diseases, in addition to funding for Rapid Diagnostic Tests, collection of samples and their transportation for fast and complete laboratory confirmation. The EU also currently contributes €14.7 million to the South Sudan Health Pooled Fund, a five year multi-donor programme. An additional €5 million will be mobilised by the EU in South Sudan to increase health system capacity to respond to the pandemic, including €1 million to set-up a laboratory for testing COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases.
The European Union Ambassador to South Sudan Dr Sinead Walsh explains the priorities of these funds: “The EU has always believed that strengthening the health care system in South Sudan is critical, but it is now urgent that this includes preparing adequately for the coronavirus pandemic following the WHO advice: test, test, test. We are putting funds towards the national laboratory which is testing for coronavirus, an essential tool within the response, and this is complementary to the country-wide information campaigns and healthcare preparedness actions that we are supporting for prevention of COVID-19.”
The French Ambassador Marc Trouyet highlighted that “Prevention work is all the more important in countries like South Sudan where health facilities are scarce. This is why France has contributed more than €3.5 million to health, water and sanitation projects in South Sudan in the last couple of years. The more we prevent, the less the impact of the virus on people and societies”.
The German Ambassador Manuel Müller underlined that: “Access to water and sanitation are always key to fight many diseases, but they become urgent in view of such a contagious virus. The German ongoing investment of over €60 million in WASH activities in South Sudan is already supporting these preventive measures, and now is topped up with support to the East African Community of 1.5 million EUR in COVID-19 trainings and test kits.”
The Dutch ambassador Janet Alberda added that: “A $22 million (USD) WASH programme implemented by UNICEF and supported by the Netherlands will ensure extra measures aimed at battling the spread of the COVID-19 virus”.
The Swedish Head of Office, Urban Sjostrom, highlights that Sweden has a long tradition of supporting the health sector and will continue to do so. “Since 2011 Sweden has invested more than €50 million in the health sector in South Sudan. This year we will invest at least €14 million in health, including support to increased information, prevention and treatment of COVID-19,” said Sjostrom.
Globally, the EU has also contributed €102 million to the WHO-led Universal Health Coverage Partnership and will now mobilise another €41.5 million in response to the coronavirus pandemic to scale up global health emergency preparedness and country capacities to prevent, detect and respond to health risks and threats.
Together the EU team, made up of the EU Institutions and the Member States, is the world’s leading donor of development and humanitarian aid.