n response to a request by the Bureau of the African Union Heads of State and Government under the leadership of H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the African Union and President of South Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a grant of US$27.33 million to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). The grant agreement was signed today in Addis Ababa by H.E. Amira Elfadil Mohammed, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission and Dr Abdul Kamara, Ethiopia Country Manager, African Development Bank.
Awarded under three key components – technical assistance and capacity building (US$19.33 million), institutional support (US$7 million) and contribution to the African Union COVID-19 Response Fund (US$ 1 million) – the grant is to support implementation of the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 Outbreak. It will enable Africa CDC to provide technical assistance and capacity building support in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating its impact in 37 African Development Fund eligible African Union Member States.
“The fight against COVID-19 is far from being over”, said H.E. Amira Elfadil Mohammed. “This generous financial support from the African Development Bank will help strengthen the capacity of Africa CDC to respond to the COVID-19 and future pandemics. It will help improve the capacity of National Public Health Institutes of Member States, support evidence-based epidemic intelligence, strengthen infection prevention and control, and support the Regional Economic Communities”.
“The expected outcome from the Bank’s collaboration with the Africa Union is a stronger Africa CDC able to rapidly coordinate emergency assistance across Africa, particularly in low income member countries, beyond the current COVID-19 response, working in collaboration with other development partners, including those in the private sector”, said Dr Kamara.
In February 2020, Africa CDC developed a continental strategy to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed to enhance cooperation, collaboration, coordination and communication while preventing severe illness and death and minimizing social disruption and economic consequences due to the pandemic. The strategy was validated by the African ministers of health in February and endorsed by the Bureau of Heads of State and Government in March 2020.
Although Africa has not recorded very high number of COVID-19 cases and deaths as in other continents, the impact of the pandemic has been very high on the continent, exerting intense pressure on the already fragile health system and adversely affecting the socioeconomic situation on the continent.
Since the validation and endorsement of the continental strategy, Africa CDC has continued to leverage resources to provide technical and material support to Member States in their response to COVID-19.
In June 2020, Africa CDC rolled out the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT), an initiative that has enabled it to bring partners together as a collective to expand testing, contact tracing and treatment of COVID-19 cases across the continent.
“We see PACT as a movement that allows us to do certain things very quickly. Since it was rolled out, testing, contact tracing and treatment have improved across the continent, but we are not there yet. What this tells us is that what we are doing is working and we must intensify our efforts. This is why partnership with institutions like AfDB is very important to us”, said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC.
The partnership with the AfDB is unique as a pan-African institution supporting socioeconomic and development initiatives across Africa. The grant award will significantly enhance the capacity of Africa CDC to provide more support to eligible Member States.
“Indeed this grant will be a big boost to Africa CDC efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa including strengthening its own capacity to address public health issues in the continent”, said Dr Ahmed Ouma, Deputy Director of Africa CDC.
As a leading development finance institution, AfDB has made significant contributions to the COVID-19 response in Africa through its COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility approved by the Boards of Directors in April 2020 and this contribution will further contribute to the Bank’s efforts in mitigating the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 in Africa.
“Through this support to the African Union and the Africa CDC, the Bank is demonstrating its continued commitment to supporting African countries to build a healthy and productive society in line with the High-5 Agenda on ‘Improving the quality of life for the people of Africa’, said Ms. Martha Phiri, Director of the Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department of the AfDB.