US$8,9m Covid-19 funding boost for Sadc

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THE African Development Bank (AFD) has availed a US$8,9 million grant to boost coronavirus (Covid-19)-related measures in six Southern African Development Community (Sadc) countries, including Zimbabwe.

This comes as the country’s confirmed Covid-19 cases are now 561, with frontline health workers expressing concern over the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the country’s health facilities.

This also comes at a time when several senior government officials have been accused of engaging in corrupt activities in relation to the procurement of Covid-19 medicines and personal protective equipment (PPE), with Health minister Obadiah Moyo recently being arrested on allegations of corruption regarding a $60m deal to procure Covid-19 test kits and medical equipment.

“The funds will facilitate the procurement of laboratory and medical supplies, including testing kits, personal protective gear and non-invasive ventilators in Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, all Sadc nations. The Sadc Secretariat is the recipient and the implementing agency of the grant,” AFD communication and external relations officer Kwasi Kpodo said.

Kpodo further said that the financing would reinforce Sadc’s capacity to coordinate pandemic response measures, including surveillance and sensitisation in the six beneficiary countries.

“The Sadc countries have inadequate resources and capacity to effectively manage the Covid-19 pandemic, which has put a strain on already fragile health systems in the countries. As a result, these countries are now struggling to respond effectively to the fast-evolving situation posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Although the spread of Covid-19 has been slow in Africa, its continues to steadily spread through the continent, leaving in its wake disruptions and hardship caused by economic lockdowns,” he said.

The 16-nation Sadc region has recorded around 130 000 Covid-19 cases out of a continent-wide total of 330 000 cases.

“The pandemic is projected to have a substantial economic impact on the Sadc member countries. For instance, real GDP in all the Sadc countries, except Zimbabwe, is forecast to contract in 2020.

“The approved project aligns with two of the Bank’s High Five priority areas; improving the quality of life for the people of Africa and integrating Africa, as well as the Sadc Disaster Preparedness and Response Mechanism to fight disasters and pandemics,” Kpodo said.

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