Uganda has received an additional $15m (about sh57b) from the US government to help in the fight against COVID-19.
The funding is part of the additional $162m (sh615.6b) that the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced towards the global COVID-19 response on May 20, as a commitment from the American people.
This brings the total amount of money that the US had devoted towards fighting the COVID-19 to $1b (sh3.8 trillion) since the outbreak began, a statement from the US Embassy in Kampala said.
The US Mission in Uganda said America has provided both technical assistance and more than $15m in funding to meet the urgent needs of Uganda’s COVID-19 response.
“This assistance has been spread across many parts of the health sector to directly support the COVID-19 response as well as to assist the broader health sector in continuing its regular service delivery with the goal of enabling Uganda’s overall health system to maintain stability despite the challenges of COVID-19,” the statement sent by the Embassy spokesperson, Phil Dimon, said.
For decades, the US Mission has invested significantly in the country’s health sector, including systems strengthening and preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious diseases.
The US government’s support to Uganda’s health sector over the years played a key role in preparing the Ugandan government to effectively respond to COVID-19, the statement noted.
“In addition to the support highlighted in our April 1 press release, which continues, we are pleased to announce the following support, which represents a portion of the $15m we have provided,” the embassy pointed out.
It said the US government has redirected and reprogrammed more than $2.8m to address general needs of the COVID-19 response including personnel, additional supplies, and technological equipment to support the surge capacity of Uganda’s Emergency Operation Center.
“We have contributed more than $600,000 of additional funding to ensure nationwide upgrades to electronic data systems and establish a National Health Information Exchange to link electronic systems for enhanced COVID-19 case management and expanded surveillance,” the Embassy said.
Besides, the US government has contributed an additional $540,000 to provide and train surge capacity laboratory staff, expand the severe acute respiratory illness sentinel surveillance network, and complete performance evaluations for new COVID-19 test kits.
To ensure that vital HIV services continue in Uganda during the COVID-19 pandemic, the US government redirected $650,000 through its Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services (RHITES) programs for training and orientation of the facility and community-based health workers on Ministry of Health guidelines, training curricula, and standard operating procedures.
“We are committed to stopping COVID-19 at Uganda’s borders through technical assistance and have provided an additional $210,000 to build the new Border Health Authority, including the creation of training protocols for border screening personnel, the creation of the National Border Health Plan, and the training of health, lab, and security personnel at borders for screening operations,” the embassy said.
Another funding of about $1.3m has given to Uganda for additional humanitarian assistance to support UNHCR’s COVID-19 response for refugees and host communities.
The US government noted that they believe that Uganda’s most vulnerable people must be protected, and to that effect, it has redirected $220,000 of funding to enhance child protection services.
This is in addition to the technical assistance provided that resulted in the re-opening of the Uganda Child Helpline (116), retaining this critical channel for comprehensive response services for child victims of violence.
Through existing platforms supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the US government pledged its continued support towards the COVID-19 response through existing systems such as the laboratory hubs and sample transportation network, national labs such as Central Public Health laboratory and Uganda Virus Research Institute.
It also pledged to support community surveillance through public health fellows, as well as supporting the key role of Regional Referral Hospitals and district leadership structures.