African Development Bank (AfDB.org) Vice President Dr Beth Dunford presented details of a new strategy that aims to improve access to health services across the continent.
Dunford delivered the message in a keynote address at the 22nd Regular Session of the Economic Community of West African States Assembly of Health Ministers in Abuja.
Opening the meeting on behalf of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, the country’s Minister of Health Osagie Ehanire noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted the fragility of health systems and infrastructure in the sub-region.
âThe challenges posed by the pandemic have strengthened our collective resolve as a region to rebuild better, and part of our strategy is to work together as a regional bloc. It is in this regard that we appreciate and commend the support and leadership role of our development partners such as the African Development Bank Group in the development of quality health infrastructure across the continent â, said the Minister of Health.
Representing Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina at the event, Dunford explained that the strategy focuses on three categories: primary health care infrastructure for underserved populations; the development of new secondary and tertiary health care establishments alongside specialized establishments for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, dialysis and pain management; and building a diagnostic infrastructure for effective and efficient diagnosis of diseases across Africa.
âCovid-19 is a wake-up call to the central role of health systems and infrastructure for inclusive economic growth,â said Dunford, the Bank’s vice president for agriculture, human and social development. âDeveloping a quality health infrastructure is a triple imperative: health infrastructure is fundamental for public health, has a significant economic impact and is of strategic importance for governments,â she added.
Currently in the consultation phase, the strategy involves policy dialogue and technical assistance on effective financing strategies, including the expansion of health insurance. Its implementation will boost the continent’s efforts to achieve United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3, which refers to good health and well-being.
Dunford said the Bank stands ready to play a pivotal role as a health infrastructure financier by leveraging its expertise in infrastructure development and working with industry partners.
âThe portfolio will include investment projects, results-based financing, risk-sharing instruments to leverage private sector resources, debt and equity investments in private companies, and promotion of sources innovative financing, such as diaspora funds. Dunford said that closing the health infrastructure funding gap would require mobilizing funds from the private sector, development finance institutions and diaspora groups. âThe Bank cannot do this without your ownership and support,â she said.
Stanley Okolo, Director General of the West African Health Organization, praised the Bank’s initiative to support the development of quality health infrastructure across Africa.
The African Development Bank has launched a multibillion-dollar Covid-19 response mechanism and issued a $ 3 billion Covid-19 bond to support efforts by African countries to mitigate the health and economic impacts of the pandemic .