The US has delivered approximately R5.9million worth of personal protective equipment to the South African Department of Health for front-line healthcare workers in the battle against Covid-19.
Speaking at Oliver Tambo International Airport moments after the equipment had landed, US Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks said the equipment comprised masks, gloves, medical gowns and sanitising supplies.
It will be distributed in Gauteng, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
The US Africa Command also announced that it would be supporting the set-up of handwashing stations in Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, contributing R4million to the initiative.
Marks said this brought the total value of US support toward South Africa’s Covid-19 response to over R808m.
“This delivery of lifesaving equipment, critically needed in South Africa, shows how we can leverage the infrastructure of our strong defence co-operation to further bolster US support to South Africa’s Covid-19 response.
“This desperately needed equipment will aid South Africa in acknowledgement of the special friendship between South Africa and the United States of America.
“In consultation with the Ministry of Health, items in short supply on the ground in SA to fight this invisible enemy will be supplied.”
Marks said the earmarked areas identified are the hardest hit.
“While there are some signs that parts of South Africa are out of the peak, as President Cyril Ramaphosa said, we cannot let up, and South Africa can count on the US to help win the battle against Covid-19.”
She said in terms of the equipment reaching the intended destinations of need, there would be monitoring and measures to ensure there was no corruption.
“There has been corruption, which is very disappointing and needs to be overcome in South Africa, but we are delivering this to the people on the ground in the four provinces. We personally deliver the supplies as we did with the ventilators which are installed and used in intensive care units.”
According to Marks, beyond the latest delivery, the US has contributed to South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic through 12000 masks donated to the South African Military Health Service, more than 250 infrared thermometers and 729000 masks for the Department of Health.
About 11000 face shields have also been manufactured locally by Ford Motor Company South Africa and donated to the South African Military Health Service.
“US Africa Command is focused on our mission and the fight against Covid-19. We’ve been working in close co-ordination with the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development to provide assistance where we can to the international Covid-19 response.”