By Dike Onwuamaeze
The Chairperson of African Union Commission, (AUC), Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, has stated that it would cost the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) an estimated $420 million to implement the Africa Continental Strategy on COVID-19 over the next six months.
Mahamat told the newly nominated COVID-19 board of trustees that the Union would be using the economic, humanitarian and health dimensions to get through the global pandemic.
He explained to the board: “The economic dimension aims to realise debt relief for the continent, and the provision of sufficient liquidity to get Africa through the crisis. In this regard, the AU Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed four special envoys to advocate with partners and the international community to provide substantial support to Africa in the face of the potential economic crisis caused by COVID-19.”
Mohamat said that the humanitarian dimension refered to the situation where Africa would be strengthening its partnerships with the United Nations and other international humanitarian agencies to provide logistical support to states in caring for refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants.
“Last but not least, the health dimension focuses on strengthening preventive measures and health infrastructure, including provision of equipment, trained health personnel, and surveillance systems that inform government decisions,” he said.
The African Union (AU) Social Affairs Commissioner, Ms. Amira Elfadil also briefed the board members on the status of the response fund and the plans to mobilise from both member states and partners to enable the AU to safe-guard Africa’s health through the Africa CDC.
Elfadil informed the board that the sum of $61.5 million had been raised and urged the board to close the gap by raising the remaining $358.5 million to reach the target.
The Director, Africa CDC, Dr. John Nkengasong, said the funds donated would be used to support the Africa CDC’s pool procurement of diagnostics and other medical commodities for distribution across the continent, which would enable the continent to test one million Africans in 10 weeks.
“It will also support the deployment of one million community healthcare workers to support contact tracing and standardisation and deployment of common technology platforms to boost public trust in testing data, epidemiological models and critical health forecasting techniques as part of the economic recovery and re-opening agenda. We need to enhance testing, improve logistics and scale up manufacturing,” Nkengasong said.
The governance structure of the AU COVID-19 response Fund Board of Trustees is made up of member states, the private sector and AU representatives. The members include the President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Prof. Benedict Oramah and the Executive Director of Dangote Group, Engr. Mansur Ahmed amongst others.