US donates COVID-19 protective gear to South African health services

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Clark, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, directs a cargo loader at Ramstein Air Base, Aug. 13. Ramstein Airmen transported COVID-19 personal protection equipment purchased by U.S. Africa Command to South Africa. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jourdan Barrons

The U.S. government and U.S. Africa Command delivered approximately $340,000 in personal protective equipment to the South African National Department of Health, Aug. 15.

The equipment, delivered by a U.S. Air Force C-130, is bound for Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal, where it will benefit front-line health workers.

AFRICOM purchased the supplies, which include N-95 masks, gloves, gowns and sanitizer, using Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid Appropriation funds after the South African government made a formal request for assistance to the U.S. Embassy.

The command is also supporting the set-up of handwashing stations in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal, contributing $225,000 to this initiative. This brings the total value of U.S. support toward South Africa’s COVID-19 response to more than $46 million.

“U.S. Africa Command is focused on mission and the fight against COVID-19. We’ve been working in close coordination with the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development to provide assistance where we can to the international COVID-19 response,” Lt. Gen. Kirk Smith, deputy commander, U.S. Africa Command.

“The contributions of critical personal protective equipment and supplies help South Africa and reflect our commitment to partnership in Africa,” he said.

The U.S. has had a long-standing relationship with South Africa. This relationship includes a commitment to improving security and military cooperation to advance peace and security in the region.

On the occasion of the C-130’s arrival, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Lana Marks said, “We are so proud of our growing partnership with South Africa’s National Defense Forces and our cooperation to ensure peace in the region.  This delivery of lifesaving equipment, critically needed here in South Africa, shows how we can leverage the infrastructure of our strong defense cooperation to further bolster the U.S. support to South Africa’s ongoing COVID-19 response.”

U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Dustin Franks, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, reviews paperwork on the back of a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft at Ramstein Air Base, Aug. 13. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jourdan Barrons

Earlier this summer, AFRICOM Foreign Humanitarian Assistance funds provided 11,064 face shields earmarked for the South African Military Health Service and two additional projects provided surgical face masks and protective face shields to assist the South African Government.