Namibia and America will Overcome COVID-19 Together

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Honorable Dr Kalumbi Shangula and U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson.

U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Lisa A. Johnson

As U.S. Ambassador to Namibia, my priority has always been partnering with Namibia to improve the health of Namibians. The United States’ decades long investment in PEPFAR, in partnership with the Namibian government, has helped to save a generation of Namibians from HIV. Today, we are threatened by a new crisis, COVID-19, and the United States’ commitment to the health of Namibians remains as strong as ever.

Today, I am proud to announce that the United States is providing N$100 million in assistance to Namibia to fight COVID-19.

The United States and my team at the Embassy have been part of the COVID-19 response in Namibia since day one. For example, our medical and technical experts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are embedded in teams with their Namibian counterparts, supporting their efforts on everything from laboratory testing to contact tracing.

This is a partnership that works and is helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Namibia. Namibia has identified no new cases for the past three weeks, while continuing to expand testing. The Namibian government is to be commended for its wise decision to take serious steps early in the outbreak, and the Namibian people are to be commended for the efforts they have made to stay home during the lockdown.

These are tough things to do, but medical evidence shows that they are slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping people healthy. Namibia is a partner in health that we are proud to invest in.

This N$100 million of U.S. assistance will:

· Strengthen Namibia’s lab testing capabilities. Lab training will instruct staff on the best biosafety practices in order to prevent lab-acquired infections. New equipment and training will speed up lab test results and improve accuracy.

· Strengthen local communities around Namibia. Home care kits will allow patients with only moderate COVID-19 symptoms to quarantine at home without transmitting the virus to family. Training of health care professionals will improve tracking and treatment outside of Windhoek.

· Strengthen Namibia’s emergency responses to epidemics. It will prepare for the implementation and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine when one is developed. Trainings will scale up rapid response teams.

· Continue to provide American medical and technical expertise through CDC personnel supporting the Namibian government’s response.

These are just some of the ways that this N$100 million from the American people will build Namibia’s resilience to COVID-19. We are prepared to help Namibia fight this virus, and we will do all we can to ensure a world safer and more secure from infectious disease threats, both now and in the future.

The N$100 million contribution is an example of the United States’ all-of-government approach to fighting COVID-19 and includes contributions from USAID, CDC, and the Department of Defense.

Working together, Namibia and America will overcome COVID in Namibia. I can say that confidently because we have done it together fighting HIV/AIDS.

In the 16 years of combatting HIV together, the U.S. PEPFAR program has invested over $1 billion U.S. dollars in Namibians’ heath. That money has helped save thousands of lives. The development of Namibia’s health system and HIV response has come so far that in November, the U.S. media wrote, “In Addressing HIV, the U.S. Has a Lot to Learn From Namibia.”

Our PEPFAR commitment to Namibia is unwavering, even as the United States ramps up our support to the COVID-19 response. Our PEPFAR program, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Services, is working hard to ensure HIV patients can get their medications and other needed services, and PEPFAR will increase its funding for Namibia next year.

Our commitment to Namibians’ health extends beyond fighting diseases like HIV and COVID-19. The United States is also providing food assistance in response to the drought, feeding over 350,000 Namibians across the country.

Namibia is indeed a partner in health that the United States should invest in. That is why no other nation in the world has contributed more to Namibia’s growth than the United States. That is why America is committing this N$100 million so we can win the COVID-19 fight, just as we are winning against HIV/AIDS.

America has made a similar commitment to global health as we have for the health of Namibians.

For more than a half century, the United States has been the largest contributor to global health security. We built the foundation upon which the global health system is based, contributing more than $140 billion in global health assistance in the 21st century alone.

Through the American people’s generosity and the U.S. government’s action, the United States continues to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. government has committed more than $775 million in assistance specifically aimed at fighting the pandemic. This funding will save lives by improving public health education, protecting healthcare facilities, and increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity in more than 100 of the most at-risk countries around the world.

The State Department, USAID, CDC, PEPFAR, and Department of Defense are working together as part of an All-of-America response to support health systems, humanitarian assistance, and economic, security, and stabilization efforts worldwide with $2.4 billion in emergency supplemental funding allocated by Congress.

The United States provides critical support to international organizations fighting the pandemic including UNICEF, the World Food Program, and dozens of other organizations.

When China was the COVID-19 epicenter, in early February, the United States delivered more than 17 tonnes of medical supplies, donated by the American people to help keep Chinese health care workers safe. We continue to offer assistance to the people of China.

Americans don’t just provide aid through government means. Our All-of-America approach is helping people around the world through the generosity of private businesses, nonprofit groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, and individuals. Together, Americans have provided nearly $3 billion in donations and assistance, in addition to what the U.S. government has provided.

As we have time and time again, the United States will aid others during their time of greatest need. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. We will continue to help countries build resilient health care systems that can prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. Just as the United States has made the world more healthy, peaceful, and prosperous for generations, so will we lead in defeating our shared pandemic enemy, and rising stronger in its wake.