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You can count on United States to help Kenya in Covid-19 fight

KYLE McCARTER

By KYLE McCARTER
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The story of US leadership in the global battle against Covid-19 is a story of days, months, and decades.

Every day, new US technical and material assistance arrives in hospitals and labs around the world.

These efforts, in turn, build on a decades-long foundation of American expertise, generosity, and planning that is unmatched in history.

Here in Kenya, over 50 years of support from the US for health providers and systems has provided the foundation for Kenya’s ability to surveil, trace, test, and treat patients to combat Covid-19.

With over Sh60 billion in annual support, the US is by far the largest international investor in Kenya’s health sector.

For more than 40 years, the US government, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has supported Kenya’s ministry of Health (MoH) to build workforce capacity and systems to prevent, detect, and respond to disease threats.

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CDC helped develop and accredit the MoH National Influenza Centre Laboratory, the first lab in Kenya accredited to test for coronavirus.

CDC has over 40 Kenya-based technical experts in outbreak control, laboratory services, infection prevention/control, epidemiology, clinical management, emergency operations management, border health, and logistics who have been supporting the MoH in Covid-19 preparedness and response since January 2020.

Also, for 16 years, the US President’s Emergency Fund for Aids Relief has supported health infrastructure essential to responding to public health threats, and the US helps to fund the salaries of over 30,000 medical providers across Kenya.

For more than 50 years the US government, through the US Army Medical Research Directorate-Africa (known as the Walter Reed Project) has supported the Kenya Medical Research Institute to research and develop medical interventions to infectious diseases in Kenya, while USAID has been Kenya’s partner to accelerate the journey to self-reliance through improvements in health, education, agriculture, economic development, water and sanitation, environment, ending violent extremism across the world.

Our generosity and pragmatism explain why the US was one of the first countries to send help to the Chinese people as soon as reports emerged from Wuhan of another outbreak.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the US 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.

America’s unsurpassed contributions are also felt through the many international organisations fighting Covid-19 on the frontlines.

America funds nearly 40 per cent of the world’s global health assistance programmes, adding up to $140 billion in investments in the past 20 years, five times more than the next largest donor.

The US has been the largest funder of the World Health Organisation 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 UN Refugee Agency, which the US backed with nearly $1.7 billion in 2019, the World Food Programme ($3.4 billion) and United Nations Children’s Fund ($700 million).

Our help is much more than money and supplies. It is the experts we have deployed worldwide, and those still conducting tutorials today via teleconference.

It is the doctors and public health professionals trained. And it’s the supply chains that we keep open and moving for US companies producing and distributing high-quality critical medical supplies around the world.

This is USA Marafiki, American exceptionalism at its finest.

The US will aid others during their time of greatest need, and 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 we have made the world more healthy, peaceful, and prosperous, so will we lead in defeating our shared pandemic enemy.

Mr McCarter is the US Ambassador to Kenya

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