An official website of the United States government

Op/Ed – Working Together to Combat COVID-19
May 11, 2020

During my four years as U.S. Ambassador to Eswatini, one of my highest priorities has been partnering with the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini to improve the health of emaSwati. The United States has long been a partner in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Eswatini, and, through PEPFAR, our investment in HIV prevention and treatment has saved the lives of thousands of emaSwati. Today, we are threatened by a new crisis, COVID-19, and the United States remains a steadfast and committed partner.

I am proud to announce that the United States is dedicating goods and services valued at nearly E94 million (E93,872,611) to Eswatini’s COVID-19 response efforts. This funding will:

· Equip hospitals, clinics, and public health institutions with supplies to care for COVID patients;

· Provide training, resources, and protection equipment to frontline medical workers;

· Help Eswatini increase and improve testing, contact tracing and rapid-response capacity across the country;

· Develop education materials for and support communities in preventing the spread of COVID-19; and

· Support delivery of HIV and other critical medications to patients in their communities during the pandemic.

This contribution of U.S. support represents one of the many ways we are already assisting in Eswatini’s effort to combat COVID-19. The United States and my team at the Embassy have been part of the COVID-19 response in Eswatini from the beginning. For example, the Embassy has dedicated 22 medical and technical experts from PEPFAR, Centers for Disease Control, Department of Defense, and the U.S. Agency for International Development to work directly on Eswatini’s COVID-19 response, supporting national efforts, sharing technical expertise, and offering a wealth of knowledge and experience in responding to this unprecedented public health threat. Through direct funding to partner organizations, we are currently supporting 50 clinical and 1,926 facility and community-based support staff to aid the government’s COVID-19 response.

The United States is the single largest donor to the Kingdom of Eswatini. Over the past 16 years the U.S. government has invested more than $500 million in assistance to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Eswatini. These investments in the Swati health care infrastructure have saved countless lives and are now more valuable than ever. Our governmental efforts are reinforced by the work of many private American citizens and organizations who reach emaSwati throughout the country.

Through PEPFAR, we have trained health care workers to deliver and improve health services, created a lasting infrastructure for Eswatini to confront current and future health challenges, and strengthened health systems, including 82 laboratories, to provide health security. The same

platforms needed for routine care and HIV/AIDS treatment are also critical to responding to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Our PEPFAR commitment to Eswatini is unwavering, and complementary to the U.S. government’s support for the COVID-19 response. Our HIV assistance supports the delivery of lifesaving treatment to over 190,000 emaSwati living with HIV, and we are working with implementing partners, in partnership with the government of Eswatini, to make sure everyone who needs HIV medications will continue to receive them despite the current challenges posed by the pandemic. To that end, we strongly encourage anyone who is HIV positive and not already on treatment to seek it out now, to diminish any added vulnerability to COVID-19.

Just as we have invested heavily in Eswatini’s health system, the United States funds nearly 40 percent of the world’s global health assistance programs, which adds up to an investment of $140 billion over the past 20 years. Since 2009, American taxpayers have generously funded more than $100 billion in health assistance and nearly $70 billion in humanitarian assistance globally.

Through the American people’s generosity and U.S. government action, we have continued to demonstrate global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the start of the outbreak, the U.S. government has committed more than $900 million to fight the pandemic abroad, with more to come. We’re saving lives by improving public health education and increasing healthcare, laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity in more than 120 countries, including Eswatini.

As with our work in Eswatini, the American response worldwide is bigger than just the government. American innovation and generosity are helping people around the world through the efforts of American businesses, NGOs, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations and more. Together, Americans have given at least $1.5 billion to fight the pandemic overseas.

Like achieving HIV/AIDS epidemic control, a response to a global pandemic such as this one requires more than a financial investment. It also requires effective collaboration and mutual accountability between partner governments and communities.

We will continue to work closely with the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini and other stakeholders to improve health outcomes for the people of Eswatini.

This commitment of assistance is another example of how the U.S. continues to work toward creating a healthier, more peaceful, and more prosperous global community for generations to come.