Britain, S/Africa to strengthen health partnership

Cyril Ramaphosa at the Francis Crick Institute biomedical research facility in London

BRITAIN and South Africa have agreed to strengthen their health partnership to help prevent future pandemics.

The agreement was signed on Wednesday as South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, visited the Francis Crick Institute biomedical research facility in London during his state visit to Britain.

As part of the agreement, British and South African institutions will collaborate on nine research projects on issues including health systems, mental health, surgery and HIV, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

New British funding has been announced to support genomic sequencing by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, which aims to accelerate the detection of dangerous diseases across Africa.

The partnership will also prioritise building vaccine manufacturing on the continent.

The two countries are also working together to tackle climate change, with Britain contributing funding to the Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa to help it decarbonise its economy.

Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said: “The UK and South Africa have shown global leadership in joining together to protect people by preventing the spread of dangerous diseases.

“And by working to halt climate change, including through the ground-breaking Just Energy Transition Partnership, to help countries move away from using fossil fuels.”

Health Secretary, Steve Barclay said: “Strengthening the partnership between the UK and South Africa is not only crucial in improving health and patient outcomes in both countries, but it is also vital to add to the global resilience of our health systems.

“Through this partnership we will reinforce our shared commitment to ensuring the world is better prepared for future pandemics through joint research and building capability for disease surveillance, including antimicrobial resistance.”

Ramaphosa also visited Kew’s Royal Botanical Gardens, which has a longstanding seed banking collaboration with South African institutions to help preserve the nation’s rich plant diversity.

Environment Secretary, Therese Coffey, who accompanied the South African president to the gardens with the Earl of Wessex, said: “this visit highlights the fantastic biodiversity of South Africa and our longstanding scientific collaboration to protect nature.”

However, ministers discussed the importance of UN talks on halting biodiversity loss taking place in December in Montreal, Canada. (dpa/NAN)