Abidjan, 9 April 2022 (TDI): The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) celebrated Wold Health Day. Several organizations and countries celebrated World Health Day on April 7 every year to mark the anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO). World Health Day has great significance to the African continent as Africa experiences 50% of global deaths from communicable diseases with only 1% of global financial resources. 

AfDB’s Contribution to African Health Sector

Between now and 2030, the African Development Bank will invest $3 billion to support African countries in strengthening their national health systems. This investment belongs to a plan named Strategy for Quality Health Infrastructure in Africa 2021-2030 (SQHIA).

The SQHIA plan recognizes the central role of health in improving the quality of life of Africans and enabling them to fulfill their potential. The strategy also responds to the growing demand from the Regional Member States (RMCs) for Bank support to overcome national health infrastructure gaps. The COVID-19 and other health crises exposed those gaps.

According to the SQHIA, the African Development Bank will use its full range of financial instruments which include not only Non-Qualified Stock Options (NSOs) but also encouraging private investment in the health sector. The focus of the implementation of those investments will be health financing, PPP development, and regional integration. 

AfDB’s Response to the COVID-19 Crisis 

In the year 2021, according to the African Development Bank; the breakout of Covid-19 has cost more than 30 million jobs in Africa. Simultaneously, Africa has also lost between $14.5 and $190 billion of gross domestic product because of the virus; and the continent’s fiscal deficit has ballooned to 75% from 60% before the crisis.

In March 2020; the African Development Bank announced a $3 billion three-year social bond; which is also known as the Fight COVID-19 Social Bond. AfDB hopes that the proceeds of the bond will attract interest from multiple investors around the world; and increase African constituents’ access to essential services such as health care, water, sanitation, and employment. This social bond can be seen as an approach to help mitigate the impact caused by the pandemic.

Moreover, to combat the crisis; the AfDB has deployed a $10 billion COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility (CRF) which provides flexible support for sovereign and non-sovereign operations. The CRF includes $5.5 billion for sovereign operations in AfDB countries; $3.1 billion for sovereign and regional operations in African Development Fund (ADF) countries; and $1.5 billion for non-sovereign operations (private sector) in all African countries.

Africa has Great Needs in Health Sector

According to the data given by the AfDB; although Africa accounts for just 15% of the world’s population, it bears 24% of the global disease burden.

In Africa, underfunded and overburdened health systems are unable to meet the challenges posed by the disease. Urbanization, population growth, and economic development are straining a fragile healthcare system. The number of health professionals in sub-Saharan Africa is 18 doctors per 100,000 population. Moreover, providing quality training and education for health workers remains a daunting task.

Moreover, the total size of the pharmaceutical industry in Africa is less than 1% of the global total; which means that 70% amount of the drugs and medical products consumed in Africa are imported. This puts Africa at a disadvantage in the face of global pandemics and health crises such as COVID-19.

Insufficient financing in the health sector is a major obstacle for health the African people’s access to quality health care. That’s the place where AfDB can play its role and make difference.