AFDB approves $2m emergency assistance in Africa

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved $2 million in emergency assistance for the World Health Organisation, WHO, to reinforce its capacity to help African countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impacts.

The grant is in response to an international appeal by the WHO to equip Regional Member Countries to prevent, rapidly detect, investigate, contain and manage detected cases of COVID-19.

“This grant will enable Regional Member Countries to put in place robust containment measures within 48 hours of COVID-19 case confirmation and also support the WHO Africa Region to disseminate information and increase public awareness in communities”, the bank’s Human Capital Youth and Skills Development Department said.

Bank interventions
In a release issued by the bank, it stated that the grant is one part of several bank interventions to help member countries address the pandemic which, while slow to arrive in Africa, is spreading quickly and is straining already fragile health systems.

“Specifically, the WHO Africa region will use the funds to bolster the capacity of 41 African countries on infection prevention, testing and case management. WHO Africa will also boost surveillance systems, procure and distribute laboratory test kits and reagents, and support coordination mechanisms at national and regional levels”, the release stated.

The grant will contribute towards a $50 million WHO Preparedness and Response Plan, which other partners including the United Nations, are also supporting.

Africa requires billions of dollars It is estimated that Africa will require billions of dollars to cushion the impact of the disease as many countries scramble together contingency measures, including commercial lockdowns, in desperate efforts to contain it.

Globally, factories have been closed and workers sent home, disrupting supply chains, trade, travel, and driving many economies toward recession.

Financial assistance package
The bank is expected to unveil a financial assistance package that will enable governments and businesses to undertake flexible responses to lessen the economic and social impact of this pandemic.

Last Thursday, the bank raised an exceptional $3 billion in a three-year social bond; the proceeds from which will go to help alleviate the economic and social effects of the pandemic.

It is the largest dollar-denominated social bond launched in international capital markets to date.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu