Harare -The African Development Bank (AfDB) this week approved US$27,33 million in grants to boost the African Union’s efforts to mobilise a continental response to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grants are primarily targeted to support the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in providing technical assistance and building capacity for 37 African Development Fund-eligible countries. The African Development Fund is the AfDB’s concessional window.
AfDB president Dr Akinwumi Adesina said: “The African Development Bank will strongly support Africa to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and build back, strongly and smartly.
“The bank’s financial support to the Africa Centres for Disease Control, reaffirms our strong commitment to regional efforts to tackle the pandemic being coordinated by the African Union. Africa needs a well-financed Africa Centres for Disease Control, today and for the future.”
The grants were sourced from the ADF’s Regional Operations/Regional Public Goods envelope and the Transition Support Facility.
“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 AfDB vice-president for agriculture, human and social development Ms Wambui Gichuri.
Focus will be on strengthening surveillance at various points of entry in African countries; building sub-regional and national capacity for epidemiological surveillance; and ensuring the availability of testing materials and personal protective equipment for frontline workers deployed in hotspots.
The operation will also facilitate collection of gender-disaggregated data and adequate staffing for Africa CDC’s emergency operations center.
At the beginning of February 2020, only two reference laboratories - in Senegal and South Africa - could run tests for COVID-19 on the continent.
The Africa CDC - working with governments, the World Health Organisation, development partners and public health institutes - has increased capacity to 44 countries since then.
Despite this progress, Africa’s testing capacity remains low, with the 37 African Development Fund-eligible countries accounting for just 40 percent of completed COVID-19 tests to date.
According to the Africa CDC, as of Wednesday Africa had surpassed 1,3 million reported COVID-19 cases, 31 725 deaths and more than one million recoveries.