The UK 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 the UK.
New UK 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 two countries are also working together on tackling climate change, with the UK contributing funding to the Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa to help it decarbonise its economy.
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.”
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.”
Ministers discussed the importance of UN talks on halting biodiversity loss, taking place next month in Montreal, Canada.
He was shown Kew’s king protea – his country’s national flower, as well as an encephalartos woodii, dubbed the loneliest plant in the world being the only specimen to be found in the wild – in 1895 in South Africa.
Mr Ramaphosa was also presented with seeds from Leucospermum conocarpodendron – the South African flower known as the tree pincushion – which has been decreasing in number on the Western Cape.
At one point, the president was pictured holding and intently examining an Identification Guide to South African Grasses book.