COVID-19: Uganda to benefit from sh36b AfDB funding

By Tracy Gwambe

Mulago 671 403 350x210

Uganda is among the 12 African countries that will benefit from the $9.52m (over sh36b) that the African Development Fund (AfDB) has approved to enhance coordinated COVID-19 response.

Funding will also go toward the procurement of essential medical supplies, including testing kits and to train health workers in East Africa and the Horn, and in Comoros, according to a statement from AfDB.

The beneficiary countries are; Uganda, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tanzania.

"The funds will be used to bolster health systems and disease surveillance, enhance infection prevention and control, and improve regional coordination," the AfDB statement said.

The grant, approved on June 26, is part of the $10 billion (sh38 trillion) COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility approved by the AfDB Board of Directors in April this year and complements the Bank's direct support to regional member countries across the continent.

According to AfDB, the funds will be used to bolster health systems and disease surveillance, enhance infection prevention and control, and improve regional coordination by the East African Community (EAC) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to contain cross-border transmissions.

"The overall objective of the operation is to reduce the incidence and mortality in the Eastern African region due to COVID-19 pandemic and other disease outbreaks," Martha Phiri, the AfDB Director for Human and Social Development said.

The EAC Secretariat will specifically receive $8.79m in tranches of $8.16m and $629,582 while $729,581 will go to IGAD.

The World Health Organization will be the implementing agency for the emergency response activities in the EAC and IGAD member states, and Comoros, while the Regional Economic Communities will be directly responsible for executing the cross-border interventions.

Countries in Eastern and the Horn of Africa are enforcing stringent border measures to mitigate the cross-border transmissions that have led to disruptions in the movement of people, trade flows, and access to essential goods.

The project will, therefore, tackle these challenges by improving testing and case detection capacity at border crossings and as well improve regional coordination.

"It will also support EAC and IGAD to roll out regional COVID-19 digital tracking systems to facilitate cross-border surveillance. This will make the regional bodies better prepared to counter cross-border transmissions during future pandemics," the statement read in part.

The grants align with AfDB's high five priority commitments, specifically to improving the quality of life for the people of Africa, and to advance regional integration.

The financing also strongly aligns with the Eastern Africa Regional Strategy Paper, which calls for enhanced cooperation in managing regional public goods.

As of 28 June, total confirmed cases in the 11 mainland countries of the region stood at 42,000, while the island nation of Comoros reported 265 cases out of a population of 800,000. Africa as a continent has slightly over 250,000 COVID-19 cases, and close to 7,000 deaths. Uganda has 893 cases with no death registered so far.