GABORONE, Botswana; April 2020. – The United States government is contributing 56 million Pula ($4.65 million) to the Government of Botswana’s COVID-19 pandemic response. This total includes the $1.5 million in assistance announced by the U.S. government on April 16. This funding will support Botswana’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, treat those infected, and contribute to Botswana’s preparedness to respond to global pandemics.
These investments will be disbursed through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Department of Defense Overseas Humanitarian Disaster Assistance and Civic Aid, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support the Government of Botswana and communities through the following activities:
● Provide 5,000 face shields and other key personal protective equipment.
● Train and deploy community health workers to find cases of COVID-19 so that early detection can stop the virus from spreading.
● Train health care workers on infection prevention and control and managing patients with COVID-19 to contain the spread of this virus and mitigate its impact in Botswana.
● Strengthen the existing national surveillance system and improve data and information management systems to estimate the impact of the disease on Botswana, identify risk factors that could make Botswana more susceptible to COVID-19, and determine how the disease is spreading, which will inform public health protocols to stop transmission of the disease and save lives.
● Investigate COVID-19 transmission among household members and conduct other research on the virus to improve global understanding of this new disease and improve prevention measures.
● Establish a Field Epidemiology Laboratory Training Program to build a corps of in-country “disease detectives” to catch and control disease outbreaks early, and prevent them from spreading to more districts or to other countries.
● Assist the National Public Health Laboratory to develop a quality management system in line with international laboratory standards and to expand and decentralize COVID-19 testing to reach all areas of the country. Two regional laboratories will be assisted to monitor the presence of influenza (“flu” illness) around Botswana.
● Support District Health Management Teams and civil society organizations leading community health projects to ensure the COVID-19 response is localized, sustainable, and strong.
● Assist in developing radio messages and other risk communication tools to ensure both rural and urban communities are well-informed of the risks and prevention measures for COVID-19.
● Establish an emergency supply chain structure to bolster the efforts of the Central Medical Stores and ensure the people of Botswana can access life-saving medication.
Just as the United States partnered with Botswana over the past decades in its fight against HIV with more than $1 billion in assistance, we are here to assist in the fight against COVID-19. This funding supplements the U.S. government’s existing partnership with the Ministry of Health and Wellness for health system strengthening, including the development of laboratory and clinic systems, modeling and surveillance, and health worker training that form the foundation of Botswana’s COVID-19 response. This partnership has also led to the National Public Health Laboratory’s ability to scale up laboratory testing at the national level, achieve certification for local COVID-19 testing, reduce test results turn-around time from one week to 48 hours, and increase testing capacity.
Globally, the U.S. government is the world’s most generous provider of bilateral assistance in global health. Since 2009, American taxpayers have made available more than $100 billion dollars in health assistance and nearly $70 billion in humanitarian assistance across the world. This U.S. government assistance has helped position partner governments to provide their citizens with life-saving support during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, through PEPFAR, the United States has invested about $1 billion over the course of our 16-year partnership with Botswana, and we are continuing to support the Government of Botswana to ensure that care and support for people living with HIV is uninterrupted during this COVID-19 pandemic.
For information on the U.S. government’s response to COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and the Department of State https://www.state.gov/coronavirus/