As part of efforts to contain a potential full-blown outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Africa, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the public health institution of the African Union, in partnership with the AfroChampions Initiative, Tuesday launched the Africa COVID-19 Response Fund; a pan-African public-private partnership to halt COVID-19 pandemic.
The partnership aims to raise an initial USD $150 million for the immediate needs of preventing transmission, and up to USD $400 million to support sustainable medical response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the procurement of medical supplies and commodities, supporting the deployment of rapid responders across the continent, as well as providing socio-economic support to Africa’s most vulnerable populations.
According to the AU, the Africa COVID-19 Response Fund is a financial instrument to mobilise and manage funds from the continent’s private sector, and other well-wishers, with the support of several African banks. The Fund will operate under the supervision of Africa CDC, which will determine priority interventions and actions including the purchase and distribution of key equipment for diagnosis, treatment and protection of caregivers, as well as implementing a broad awareness campaign focused on prevention.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa cum incumbent chairperson of the AU welcomed the creation of the joint AU-Africa CDC-AfroChampions partnership. “While we continue to welcome expertise and feedback from regions already engaged in the fight against the coronavirus, we must also establish an autonomous strike force. Other regions in the world are already paying a heavy tribute to COVID-19 and their support will be limited. Therefore, African money and African expertise must be mobilized,” he said.
“The time has come for Africa to deploy forward-looking measures. We must start from now to strengthen our capacities in diagnostic tests, drug manufacturing and health infrastructure. Not only can the African private sector contribute to this fund, it should also consider other actions like prevention campaigns in companies, redeployment of production lines towards equipment and products needed against the pandemic, optimization of transport and connectivity infrastructure to support health emergencies,” says Paulo Gomes, vice chair of the AfroChampions Initiative.
A number of African countries have already provided seed funding for the Africa COVID-19 Response Fund namely, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Egypt, Kenya and Mali. Partners involved with the COVID-19 fund include Ecobank, Standard Bank, Equity Bank; RH Managers; and the Africa Public Health Foundation. Others are UNDP’s African Influencers for Development Group; Africa Health Business, Global Infectious Disease Services and Speak Up Africa.
“There is a race against time to prepare and protect our communities. Africa must fight this as one and no country on our continent should be left behind. We must coordinate efforts of Member States, African Union agencies, World Health Organization, and other partners to ensure synergy and minimize duplication. We must also promote evidence-based public health practice for surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of COVID-19,” said Dr. John Nkengasong Director of the Africa CDC.
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