The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved $2 million (KShs211.3 million) emergency assistance for measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in Africa.
The bank approved the grant on Tuesday, March 31, for the World Health Organization to reinforce its capacity to help African countries contain COVID-29 pandemic and mitigate its impacts.
“The grant, which is in response to an international appeal by the WHO, will be used by the world body to equip Regional Member Countries to prevent, rapidly detect, investigate, contain and manage detected cases of COVID-19,” said AfDB Board of Directors.
The grant is part of AfDB’s interventions to assist member countries to address the pandemic which is spreading quickly in the continent and threatening to strain already fragile health systems.
As of Thursday, April 2, there were 6,803 confirmed coronavirus cases in 51 out of 54 African countries with 240 death tolls.
Globally, confirmed COVID-19 cases are nearing one million with the disease having spread to 203 countries and territories. The global death toll has hit over 47,000 with US, Italy and Spain the worst-hit by the pandemic.
To avoid the crisis being witnessed in Europe and the US and with the disease having been slow to arrive in Africa, AfDB wants its 41 member countries to bolster their 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,” said AfDB.
The funds will also go towards increasing public awareness in communities and dissemination of information.
The grant will contribute toward a $50 million 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 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.
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.