AU says Africa's fight against Covid-19 not yet over

A health worker takes a swab sample for Covid-19 test from a girl in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, on Oct. 17, 2020. [Joy Nabukewa/Xinhua]

The African Union (AU) Commission has stressed that Africa's fight against Covid-19 pandemic "far from being over."

The statement was made on Friday by the Amira Elfadil, the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, during the occasion in which the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved a grant of 27.33 million U.S. dollars to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to support the continental fight against the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the pan African bloc, although Africa has not recorded a very high number of Covid-19 cases and deaths as in other continents, the impact of the pandemic has been "very high on the continent, exerting intense pressure on the already fragile health system and adversely affecting the socio-economic situation on the continent."

The AU Social Affairs Commissioner stressed that the "fight against Covid-19 is far from being over," as she emphasized the financial support obtained from AfDB "will help strengthen the capacity of Africa CDC to respond to the Covid-19 and future pandemics."

"It will help improve the capacity of National Public Health Institutes of member states, support evidence-based epidemic intelligence, strengthen infection prevention and control, and support the Regional Economic Communities," Elfadil said.

In February 2020, Africa CDC developed a continental strategy to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, aimed to enhance cooperation, collaboration, coordination and communication while preventing severe illness and death and minimizing social disruption and economic consequences due to the pandemic. The strategy was validated by the African ministers of health in February and endorsed by the Bureau of Heads of State and Government in March 2020.

The financial grant from AfDB, which was awarded under three key components that are technical assistance and capacity building, institutional support and contribution to the African Union Covid-19 Response Fund, envisaged supporting the implementation of the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for Covid-19 Outbreak.

According to the AU, the financial support will enable Africa CDC to provide technical assistance and capacity building support in combating the Covid-19 pandemic and mitigating its impact in 37 African Development Fund eligible AU member states.

Abdul Kamara, AfDB's Ethiopia Country Manager, also said during the occasion that the expected outcome from the Bank's collaboration with the AU "is a stronger Africa CDC able to rapidly coordinate emergency assistance across Africa, particularly in low-income member countries, beyond the current Covid-19 response, working in collaboration with other development partners, including those in the private sector."

In June 2020, the Africa CDC had rolled out the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT), an initiative that has enabled it to bring partners together as a collective to expand testing, contact tracing and treatment of Covid-19 cases across the continent.

John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, said during the event that the Africa CDC sees PACT "as a movement that allows us to do certain things very quickly."

"Since PACT was rolled out, testing, contact tracing and treatment have improved across the continent, but we are not there yet. What this tells us is that what we are doing is working and we must intensify our efforts. This is why the partnership with institutions like AfDB is very important to us," he added.

As of Friday, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the African continent has reached 2,026,841, as the death toll due related to the pandemic stood at 48,681, according to the Africa CDC.

A total of 1,714,395 people infected with Covid-19 have recovered across the continent so far, it was noted.

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