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US Secretary of State pledges health funding for Africa

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States has committed over $170m to the fight against COVID-19 in Africa and would consider further debt relief for the continent.

Speaking on a phone call to journalists, Pompeo said that the Africa support comprised part of $775m that the country has spent abroad during the pandemic and insisted that “no other nation is doing more than we are”.

“In Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Mauritania, we repurposed field hospitals, tents and ambulances from international peacekeeping missions for COVID-19 efforts. In Ethiopia, the state department, led by USAID, has trained more than 500 COVID-19 rapid-response workers. In Nigeria, for example, even in states ravaged by Boko Haram and Isis in West Africa, the state department and USAID have trained hundreds of volunteers to help slow the spread of the virus.”

Pompeo said that the US was constantly evaluating “the how and when” of further debt relief for African countries following an initial commitment from the G20 to suspend debt service payments for the world’s poorest countries until the end of the year, comparing US efforts with those of adversity China.

“I welcome this critical financial support that’s been provided to low-income African countries and debt suspension, both on a bilateral basis and debt from the G20 and Paris Club members. …I would also remind everyone that there’s an enormous amount of debt that the Chinese communist party has imposed on African countries all across the region,” he said.

He also hit back at suggestions that US withdrawal of funding for the WHO amid a fallout over its COVID-19 response negatively impacted its African partners.

“We’re not reducing the amount of money that we’re providing for global health assistance. Indeed, far from it. I’m confident we will actually increase that number. But we need to make sure it’s part of a multi-national institution that functions, that can actually deliver good outcomes for the people in some of the poorest countries in the world that are there in Africa.”

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