Thursday, July 29, 2021

    Experts call on African govts to strengthen investments in health, education to forestall crises

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    By Temitope Ponle
    Abuja, June 26, 2021 Some health experts have urged African governments to strengthen investments in health and education, to avoid unprecedented crises in the future, a statement from the African Development Bank (AfDB) said on Saturday.
    The experts were contributing to a knowledge session entitled “Building Africa’s healthcare defence system” as part of the the 2021 Annual Meeting of the AfDB Group on Friday.
    Mr John Nkengasong, Head of the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, described the COVID-19 pandemic as an indication that Africa needed to strengthen its health defences.
    As part of this, Nkengasong suggested the implementation of workforce development; manufacturing capacity of diagnostics, vaccines and treatment; institution building and partnerships with the private sector.
    Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, emphasised WHO’s partnership with the AfDB and regional governments.
    “This important public-private-partnership is an important step to building the infrastructure and human resource capacity to contribute to closing the gap in access to vaccines on the continent.
    “I see the African Development Bank playing a critical role on this journey alongside the African Union and the Africa CDC.”
    President of the AfDB, Dr Akinwumi Adesina said Africa must give hope to the poor and the vulnerable, by ensuring that every African, regardless of their income level, got access to quality health care, health insurance and social protection.
    Mr James Scriven, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IDB Invest, offered lessons from Latin America which, he described as the fastest growing region for generic pharmaceuticals.
    Scriven said: “Now is the right time to strengthen pharma manufacturing capability in emerging countries, and support business models that can expand the reach and supply of medicines and healthcare.”
    Former World Bank President Jim Kim said a holistic approach that would harness community workers and improve infrastructure would be crucial.
    Kim, who is also a vice-chairman and partner with Global Infrastructure Partners, called on the private sector to be a partner in building Africa’s healthcare defences.
    “You cannot end extreme poverty if you are neglecting the investments in health and education that are so critical to economic growth.”
    He urged a return to basics, adding: “It’s not one thing. It’s the health workers, it’s hospital beds, it’s making sure that you can provide oxygen, and then it’s going to be production capacity for these vaccines and this all has to happen very quickly.”
    The just concluded 2021 Annual Meetings of the AfDB had as its theme: “Building resilient economies in post COVID-19 Africa.”

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