African Development Bank and World Health Organization Collaborate to Revamp Primary Healthcare across Africa

The World Health Organization and the African Development Bank Group have decided to further up their collaboration and accelerate the transformation of basic healthcare in Africa.

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the Bank Group, and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, stated that 85% of Africa’s healthcare issues could be resolved by investing in the primary healthcare infrastructure of the continent during a meeting on Sunday outside the Islamic Development Bank’s annual meetings in Riyadh.

The difficult lessons Africa learned from the Covid-19 pandemic—when the continent was caught off guard and struggled to obtain medications and vaccines while some developed countries hoarded their excess—inspired the drive to change the continent’s healthcare system.

To assist its regional members during the pandemic, the Bank subsequently established a $10 billion Covid-19 Response Facility. In order to address the continent’s need for necessary medications and vaccinations, the Bank Board of Directors approved investments totaling $3 billion for high-quality healthcare facilities and an additional $3 billion to develop Africa’s pharmaceutical sector. African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation was established as a result, with its headquarters located in Kigali. Tedros belongs to the esteemed Advisory Council of the Foundation.

Adesina indicated that although the outbreak may be over, “we must be prepared for the next pandemic and go beyond dealing with emergencies.” Investing in our basic healthcare infrastructure is necessary.

He listed five crucial issues that must be resolved in order to create a long-lasting environment for the health sector in Africa:
• Connect all healthcare centres to water and electricity. Only half of primary healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have access to clean water and adequate sanitation and only a third have access to reliable electricity.
• Digitalise management and sharing of records across the health sector.
• Standardise the quality of primary healthcare in terms of facilities and services. Health facilities are unevenly distributed, with major gaps in rural areas.
• Change the current business model which is dominated by governments with limited resources and lack the ability to scale up quality service. There is need to attract private sector investment and ensure sustainable delivery of primary healthcare.
• With improved and accessible quality healthcare service at primary level, people will feel incentivised to pay for health insurance.

The director general of WHO concurred with Adesina and noted that, as of now, the majority of donor financing is allocated to healthcare services, with relatively little going toward infrastructure development.

In order to increase efforts to provide high-quality basic healthcare in Africa, Adesina and Tedros decided to make sure their teams collaborate in order to expand the work that is already being done on the five challenges brought up during their meeting.

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