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AfDB crafts COVID-19 fight package

By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
THE African Development Bank (AfDB) will unveil a financial assistance package for member states including Zambia to lessen the economic and social impact of the coronavirus, as it approves US$2 million emergency assistance for the World Health Organisation (WHO).
AfDB indicated that it would soon unveil a financial package to enable governments and businesses undertake flexible responses to lessen the economic and social impact of the pandemic.
“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,”AfDB said in a statement.
Last Thursday, the institution raised an US$3 billion in a three-year social bond, the proceeds from which will go to help alleviate the economic impact of the pandemic.
It is the largest dollar-denominated social bond launched in international capital markets to date.
Additionally, AfDB on Tuesday this week approved $2 million in emergency assistance for the World Health Organization (WHO) to re-inforce its capacity to help African countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grant, which is in response to an international appeal by the WHO, would be used by the world body to equip regional member countries to prevent, detect, investigate, contain and manage cases of COVID-19.
“It is one part of several Bank interventions to help member countries address the pandemic which, while slow to arrive in Africa, is spreading quickly and is straining already fragile health systems,”AfDB said.
The grant would contribute toward a US$50 million WHO Preparedness and Response Plan, which other partners including the United Nations system, are also supporting.
According to the AfDB, the WHO Africa region would use the funds to bolster the capacity of 41 African countries on infection prevention, testing and case management.
AfDB expected the WHO Africa to boost surveillance systems, procure and distribute laboratory test kits and reagents, and support coordination mechanisms at national and regional levels.

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