The African Development Bank has pledged to support Africa’s health systems, some of which are being overrun by the coronavirus pandemic, as a way of safeguarding some of the economic gains that the continent has achived over the years.
At the end of the 56th annual AfDB meeting last week, Akinwumi Adesina, the president of the bank, said in a press statement that they would “invest heavily in domestic vaccine manufacturing and in Africa’s healthcare system [as] only 51 per
cent of public health facilities have basic water and sanitation, and only 31 per cent of healthcare facilities have electricity.”
He said that Africa imports between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of its pharmaceutical drugs.
“The lives of 1.2 billion people in Africa are at risk… we must give hope to the poor, the vulnerable, by ensuring that every African, regardless of their income level, gets access to quality healthcare, as well as health insurance and social protection,” Adesina said.
To achieve its goal, Adesina proposed the creation of a financial facility with a European model from which African countries can borrow money. The details of this facility were not readily available, although the press statement notes that it will act as a “firewall against external shocks.”
A clearer financial proposal was for the AfDB to “act as a conduit for International Monetary Fund (IMF) special drawing rights, which it would then on-lend to African countries.”
Special Drawing Rights offer countries an opportunity to boost their central reserves, especially when their currencies face pressures.
Covid-19 has seen a number of countries, such as Uganda, institute lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus. However, the lockdowns are likely to see a drop in economic growth, and more people slip into poverty.
Less than one per cent of the people in Africa are vaccinated. The continent will need to vaccinate at least 60 per cent in of the population for it to be a strong position to fight the spread of the virus.