Honorable Minister of Health Lizzie Nkhosi
Joined by her team from the Ministry of Health:
Dr. Okello, Deputy Director Clinical Services,
Rejoice Nkambule, Deputy Director Public Health,
Gcinile Buthelezi, MOH Cooperative Agreement Chief of Party,
Themba Motsa, Assistant Director, Central Medical Store
Members of the media,
All protocols observed.
Welcome, and Sanibonani!
We are here today to recognize the most recent delivery of U.S. technical support, medical equipment, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to help Eswatini in the fight against COVID-19. We are proud to partner with the Eswatini Ministry of Health in the provision of medical service and equipment to support the response in the face of this pandemic.
The U.S. government, through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Center for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Defense (DOD), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is pleased to present this additional lifesaving assistance for COVID-19 clinical case management to the Kingdom of Eswatini. The equipment and support we are announcing today includes:
- The training of healthcare workers in the management of COVID-19 cases;
- Medical oxygen storage, availability, and delivery;
- Technical assistance;
- COVID-19 kiosk support;
- Provision of oxygen concentrators;
- Rebreather oxygen treatment masks; and
- Personal protective equipment.
The value of today’s donation is more than E10.5 million (US$774,188), bringing the total U.S. support to Eswatini for COVID-19 relief to E142.4 million (US $8.5 million). In terms of lives it will protect, it is priceless.
Of note are the OxERA specialized masks that are part of this donation. We are proud to be the first to bring this South African COVID-specific innovation to Eswatini. These masks are a game changer in the fight against COVID-19 due to this equipment bridging the gap between current standard oxygen therapy and intensive care-based ventilation, while requiring no more oxygen flow than a standard face mask.
The device has been successfully used in South African environments, ranging from rural clinics to specialist hospitals, by all levels of staff and we look forward to working together with the Ministry of Health on training and implementing of this technology in the country.
In addition to direct support to Eswatini, the United States has recently provided $3.5 billion to the Global Fund to distribute to supported countries for COVID-19 prevention and treatment—of which up to $16 million is for the Kingdom of Eswatini. The U.S. has also committed $4 billion to the COVAX facility for the procurement of vaccine for beneficiary countries, including Eswatini.
The White House has recently announced a plan to dispatch 80 million doses of vaccine from the U.S. before the end of June, with the first batch of 25 million including an allotment of 5 million for Africa to be shared with countries that will be selected in coordination with the African Union.
The Eswatini health system was hard hit by the second wave, with the fatality rate reaching the 4th highest in the world by January 2021. Epidemiologists are predicting a longer and potentially more severe third wave heading into the Southern Hemisphere winter, as already witnessed by other countries in the region. We believe this contribution will go a long way in ensuring that the impact of the pandemic is lessened.
As we have long stood beside the Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we will continue to stand together to respond to COVID-19.