The African Development Bank approved a grant of $27.4 to boost the efforts of the African Union (AU) to mobilize continental response to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
“With this financing package, we are reaffirming our strong commitment to a coordinated African response in the face of COVID-19. Most importantly, we are sending a strong signal that collectively, the continent can address the pandemic in Africa, which is straining health systems and causing unprecedented socio-economic impacts on the continent.” Said Akinwumi Adesina, African Development Bank President after the approval of the funds.
About $26.03 million of the grant will help strengthen the institutional capacity of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to respond to public health emergencies across the continent. The remaining balance of about $1.37 million will be a contribution to the AU COVID-19 Response Fund.
The two grants are from the bank’s African Development Fund and the Transition Support Facility. They will help support the implementation of Africa CDC’s COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan through building sub-regional and national capacity for epidemiological surveillance, strengthening surveillance at various points of entry (air, sea and land) in African countries and ensuring the availability of personal protective equipment for frontline workers deployed in hotspots and testing materials.
At the beginning of February 2020, only two laboratories could run tests for COVID-19 tests in Africa, through the help of Africa CDC, working with governments, WHO, several development partners and public health institutes, the laboratories capacity has increased to 44 countries. Africa’s testing capacity remains at less than 600 per one million people compared to 50,000 in Europe despite this progress.
“Our response today and support to the African Union, is timely and will play a crucial role in helping Africa look inward for solutions to build resilience to this pandemic and future outbreaks,” said Wambui Gichuri, Bank Ag. Vice President, Agriculture and Human Development.
The approval comes just after a meeting of the extended Bureau of the AU Conference of Heads of State and Government with Africa’s private sector on 22 April 2020, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, the current chairperson of the AU.