Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United States has explained why it is providing Nigeria with $6.7 million in funding to fight the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The amount which is being expended through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), according to the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, is nothing other than altruistic reasons and it is the right thing to do.
The funds, Leonard added, will be used for risk communication, water and sanitation activities, infection prevention and control, and coordination.
The assistance, the United States envoy added, is in addition to the more than $5.2 billion United States health assistance and more than $8.1 billion in total assistance the State Department and USAID have provided Nigeria over the past 20 years.
The U.S. government is taking extraordinary steps to help to #StoptheSpread of #COVID19 around the world. Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard delivers a message to Nigerians and US Citizens in Nigeria. Together, our global community will triumph over this disease. pic.twitter.com/oCkXHZhG0z
— U.S. Mission Nigeria (@USEmbassyAbuja) March 30, 2020
Leonard also said the United States was making the intervention because pandemics don’t respect national borders, adding that if the United States can help countries contain outbreaks, the United States will be saving lives abroad and at home.
Leonard said in a statement: “The story of U.S. leadership in the global battle against COVID-19 is a story of days, months, and decades. Every day, new U.S. technical and material assistance arrives in hospitals and labs around the world. These efforts, in turn, build on the decades-long foundation of American expertise, generosity, and planning that is unmatched in history.
“The United States provides aid for altruistic reasons because we believe it’s the right thing to do. We also do it because pandemics don’t respect national borders. If we can help countries contain outbreaks, we’ll save lives abroad and at home in the U.S.
“That generosity and pragmatism explains why the United States was one of the first countries to help the Chinese people as soon as reports emerged from Wuhan of another outbreak. In early January, the United States government offered immediate technical assistance to the Chinese Centres for Disease Control.
“It’s also why the U.S. government is providing $6.7 million to Nigeria in USAID International Development Assistance health and humanitarian funding for the COVID-19 response. These funds will go toward risk communication, water and sanitation activities, infection prevention and control, and coordination. This assistance is in addition to the more than $5.2 billion in U.S. health assistance and more than $8.1 billion in total assistance the State Department and USAID have provided Nigeria over the past 20 years.”
Leonard further said her country’s help was much more than money and supplies, adding that it was the experts the United States have deployed worldwide, and those still conducting tutorials today via teleconference.
“It’s the doctors and public-health professionals trained, thanks to U.S. money and educational institutions. And it’s the supply chains that we keep open and moving for U.S. companies producing and distributing high-quality critical medical supplies around the world.
“Of course, it isn’t just our government helping the world. American businesses, NGOs, and faith-based organizations have given at least $1.5 billion to fight the pandemic overseas. American companies are innovating new technologies for vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and ventilators. This is American exceptionalism at its finest.
“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 U.S. has made the world healthier, more peaceful, and prosperous for generations, so will we lead in defeating our shared pandemic enemy, and rising stronger in its wake,” Leonard added.
Earlier, Leonard said in the first week of February, the United States transported nearly 18 tons of medical supplies to Wuhan, China, provided by Samaritan’s Purse, The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, and others.
She further said the United States also pledged $100 million in assistance to countries to fight what would become a pandemic, including an offer to China which was declined.
“Our response now far surpasses that initial pledge. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the U.S. government has committed nearly $500 million in assistance to date. This funding will improve public health education, protect healthcare facilities, and increase laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity in more than 60 of the world’s most-at-risk countries– all in an effort to help contain outbreaks before they reach our shores.
“Our aid helps people in the most dire circumstances. For instance, the U.S. government works with NGOs to deliver medicines, medical supplies, and food to the Syrian people, including those living in regime-held areas. We are helping United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations build more water, sanitation and health facilities across northern Syria to prevent the spread of the virus. We are aiding friends from Africa to Asia, and beyond.
“America’s unsurpassed contributions are also felt through the many international organizations fighting COVID-19 on the front lines.
“The U.S. has been the largest funder of the World Health Organization since its founding in 1948. We gave more than $400 million to the institution in 2019 – nearly double the second-largest contribution and more than the next three contributors combined.
“It’s a similar story with the U.N. Refugee Agency, which the U.S. backed with nearly $1.7 billion in 2019. That’s more than all other member states combined, and more than four times the second-largest contributor, Germany.
“Then there is the World Food Program, to which the U.S. gave $3.4 billion last year, or 42% of its total budget. That’s nearly four times the second-largest contributor, and more than all other member states combined. We also gave more than $700 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than any other donor.
“We are proud that when these international organizations deliver food, medicines, and other aid all around the world, that too is largely thanks to the generosity of the American people, in partnership with donor nations.
“Our country continues to be the single largest health and humanitarian donor for both long-term development and capacity building efforts with partners, and emergency response efforts in the face of recurrent crises. This money has saved lives, protected people who are most vulnerable to disease, built health institutions and promoted the stability of communities and nations.
“America funds nearly 40% of the world’s global health assistance programs, adding up to $140 billion in investments in the past 20 years – five times more than the next largest donor. Since 2009, American taxpayers have generously funded more than $100 billion in health assistance and nearly $70 billion in humanitarian assistance globally,” the United States Ambassador further wrote.