The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved $2 million emergency assistance for the World Health Organisation (WHO), to reinforce its capacity to help African countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement issued by the Bank’s Communication and External Relations Department on Wednesday, it said the fund would also help mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.
The bank explained that the grant, which was in response to an international appeal by the WHO, would be used by the world body to equip Regional Member Countries to prevent, rapidly detect, investigate, contain and manage cases of COVID-19.
It added that this was one part of several Bank interventions to help member countries address the pandemic which it said was slow to arrive in Africa.
It noted that the virus was spreading quickly and also straining already fragile health systems.
It stated that the WHO Africa region would specifically use the funds to bolster the capacity of 41 African countries on infection prevention, testing and case management.
It added that WHO Africa would also boost surveillance systems, procure and distribute laboratory test kits and reagents, and support coordination mechanisms at national and regional levels.
“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 grant will contribute toward a 50 million dollars WHO Preparedness and Response Plan, which other partners including the United Nations system, are also supporting.
“It is estimated that Africa will require billions of dollars to cushion the impact of the disease as many countries scramble together for 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.
“The Bank Group 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” it stated.