President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has said the lives of 1.2 billion Africans are at risk of poor access to quality healthcare amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adesina who stated this at the 56th Annual Meetings of the Bank Group, also pledged that the Bank would strengthen support to African countries as they tackle the pandemic’s economic and health impacts.
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According to a statement, shareholders at the three day meeting showed strong support for the Bank’s proposals to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, just as the continent faces the possibility of a third wave of infection amid poor vaccine access.
Looking ahead, Adesina said the Bank would invest heavily in domestic vaccine manufacturing and in Africa’s healthcare system, noting that only 51% of public health facilities have basic water and sanitation, and only 31% of healthcare facilities have electricity.
He also noted that Africa imports 60-70% of its pharmaceutical drugs.
“The lives of 1.2 billion people in Africa are at risk… we must give hope to the poor, the vulnerable, by ensuring that every African, regardless of their income level, gets access to quality healthcare, as well as health insurance and social protection,” said Adesina on the final day of the meeting.
Part of the proposal at the 47th meeting of the governor’s of the Africa Development Fund, the banks finanixn and, is that the Africa’s only development finance institution with a AAA credit rating, would act as a conduit for International Monetary Fund (IMF) special drawing rights, which it would then on-lend to African countries.
Kenneth Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Finance Minister and Chairperson of the African Development Bank Board of Governors, cautioned at the start of the meetings that Africa risked being left behind as a result of the pandemic.
Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA), lauded the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme, a joint initiative between the GCA and AfDB to mobilize $25 billion to accelerate climate change adaptation across Africa.
For the second successive year, the Bank’s 81 member countries have met virtually, while it was agreed that Ghana will host the next Annual Meetings in 2022.