The White House has announced plans to establish a joint pandemic research institute between the United States and Africa, aiming to prevent future outbreaks of deadly diseases.
In a statement, the White House Press Secretary said that, following President Donald Trump’s remarks at the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Board of Advisors Meeting, his administration will establish the United States—Africa Institute for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, an initiative in which HBCUs will serve as a key liaison.
“The U.S.-Africa Institute will build the leadership and capacity of African health professionals, support African technological innovation, and create a data hub to support the rapid detection and mitigation of pandemics,” the press secretary said.
The chief aim of the endeavor is to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks. HBCUs, which the White House called “a uniquely American asset,” will play a leading role in the Institute, which will also “complement longstanding United States investments and relationships, and usher in a new era of two-way partnership with the African continent.”
The United States has made more health-related investments in Africa in the past twenty years than any other nation.
“We stand in solidarity with the people of Africa, and are proud to do so in the face of COVID-19, dedicating close to $270 million to bolster African efforts to mitigate the virus,” said Jessica Lapenn, U.S. Ambassador to the African Union, on the occasion of May 25 celebrations of Africa Day.
According to the U.S. Mission to the African Union, funds will go towards such initiatives as $1 million to bolster surveillance and case management efforts in response to COVID-19 in Rwanda, or a similar amount to Kenya, including for health-communication networks.
“This COVID-19 specific assistance comes on top of long-term U.S. investment in Kenya, including $6.7 billion in health assistance alone, and more than $11.7 billion in development and other assistance over the last 20 years,” the U.S. Mission stated.
“The United States’ longstanding leadership in public health in Africa has generated extensive networks of labs, thousands of trained personnel, and has saved lives across the African continent,” the White House press secretary said.
On the third day of the United Nations annual gathering on Sept. 24, African leaders called for dramatic fiscal measures to help their economies survive the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak, which one leader called the “fifth horseman of the apocalypse.”
Africa’s 54 countries estimate they need $100 billion in support annually for the next three years.
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso recalled the UN chief’s speech early this year warning against the “four horsemen of the apocalypse,” including geopolitical tensions and “the dark side of technology,” like the lethal potential of artificial intelligence in warfare.
“Unfortunately,” Kabore said, “less than two months later, a fifth horseman of the apocalypse—very destructive, the coronavirus—has appeared.”
Health experts say Africa has fared much better than the dire predictions early in the pandemic. So far, there have been over 1.4 million confirmed cases on the continent of 1.3 billion people.