DEPUTY SECRETARY SHERMAN: Good afternoon everyone. What a terrific tour and what a phenomenal set-up you have. Thank you for giving us all an opportunity to see this good work.
I want to begin by thanking Minister of State for Social Affairs Carolina Cerqueira, Minister of Health Silvia Lutucuta, and Minister of Education Luisa Grillo for being here for this really exciting occasion. I also want to thank my new friend, Minister of State Francisco Furtado, who I met earlier today, for his leadership in Angola’s fight against COVID. Let’s have another round of applause for all of them. [Applause.]
And of course, it is always wonderful to be here with someone who is very beloved in our country and in the Department of State, our wonderful Ambassador Tulu Mushingi. Tuli, it is so good to be with you. [Applause.] He and our entire Embassy team, many of whom are with us today, are doing an amazing job deepening the United States’ partnership and friendship with Angola and with the Angolan people.
We just completed a tour of the vaccination facilities here at the High School. It was fantastic, as I said, to have the opportunity to learn about the extraordinary work the team here is doing to get shots in arms and protect Angolans from COVID-19.
In the last two years, Angola, Africa, and the entire world – including the United States of America – have been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the first two COVID-19 cases were announced in Angola in March 2020, at least 1,900 Angolans have lost their lives to this virus. Countless others have had their lives upended because of the economic chaos that resulted from the pandemic. Doctors and nurses have worked around the clock in hospitals and emergency clinics to save lives—often under very challenging circumstances, as global supply chains have repeatedly come under stress.
The United States is committed to helping overcome the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. We will continue to donate vaccines, and have already – have already – donated more vaccine doses around the world than any other nation.
Here in Angola, we have donated more than eight million doses, including 497 [thousand] more Pfizer doses just last weekend. And we are going to keep delivering vaccine doses in partnership with COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust as we work together to vaccinate 70 percent of people in every country, in every economy, and support countries in achieving their own vaccine goals.
Now, we are stepping up our work to help countries around the world get those shots into arms as you’re doing here. I am very proud to announce today that Angola is one of 11 countries the United States will be working especially closely with as part of our new Global VAX initiative.
We will be deepening our already strong partnership with the Government of Angola by providing more than $25 million in new resources to support health care workers. [Applause.]
That money is meant to support health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic, improve community outreach to help get more doses to more people across the country, help close information gaps and address disinformation and misinformation that reduces people’s confidence in vaccines, and much more. This new investment brings our total support for Angola’s COVID-19 response to over $39 million.
This is all about Angolans protecting Angolans. Safe and effective vaccines are the best tool we have to protect Angolans from falling seriously ill or dying from COVID-19—or from spreading the illness to friends and loved ones. Getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect the person who gets their shots. It helps protect the whole community.
Angola has had incredible success here in Luanda, where 77 percent of people who are eligible for vaccination have received at least one dose. Now, we need to build on that success in every province across the country. The Global VAX initiative will do just that.
One of the reasons Angola is one of the United States’ 11 Global Vax partners is because we have an incredibly strong history of working together to address major health concerns here in Angola—including HIV and malaria.
Over the last two decades, we have provided more than $630 million to address health needs in Angola and support Angola’s health system. PEPFAR is working in partnership with First Lady Lourenco’s “Born Free to Shine” – I love that title, “Born Free to Shine” – initiative, to reduce transmission of HIV from mothers to children, and to improve health outcomes for women and children.
Now, many of our PEPFAR partners in Angola are playing a critical role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including by working with HIV patients who are especially vulnerable to the virus.
And our work to combat malaria across Angola continues. In fact, despite the serious challenges the COVID-19 pandemic created for supply chains and health care delivery, Angola saw 20 percent fewer malaria deaths over the last year in provinces receiving such support. That’s a success story that we can build on in the months and years to come.
Estamos juntos. We are all in this together—Angolans and Americans alike. No one is safe from COVID-19 until everyone, everywhere is safe.
Thank you again, Ministers, all, for joining me today for this exciting announcement. We look forward to continuing our strong health partnership with Angola in the years to come.
Thank you, and thank you for everything that each one of you does to help move this mission forward. [Applause.]