WHO, EU launch project to strengthen COVID-19 response in Botswana

GABORONE, March 26 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Union (EU) on Thursday launched a European Commission Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) funding project to strengthen COVID-19 and public health emergency response in Botswana.

File photo: Agencies

The total grant is about 13 million Pula (1.1 million U.S. dollars), said Josephine Namboze, WHO Representative to Botswana and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), at the launch of the project in the country's capital Gaborone.

The pandemic has shown the vulnerability of the whole world to public health threats of international concern, and reminded us of the need for health security as a concerted effort for both governments and partners, Namboze added.

Ambassador of the EU to Botswana and the SADC Jan Sadek said the project is another example of the EU support to Botswana's COVID-19 response.

"This commitment is part of a larger EU humanitarian package of almost 900 million Pula (81 million dollars) financed by our humanitarian office ECHO for countries in the Southern Africa to help support people impacted by COVID-19, drought and other humanitarian crises that persist in the region," Sadek said.

The support from the two partners has covered the breadth of the health system, and also focused on some key life-changing areas like the capacity for COVID-19 testing in the country, said Minister of Health and Wellness Edwin Dikoloti.

Dikoloti also expressed concern over the availability of vaccines.

"Production has fallen well below targeted quantities and this will have a major implication on country efforts against the pandemic," the minister said.

"It may be another area where we could together score a game-changer and I look forward to further discussions on how we can further work together," added the minister.