WASHINGTON —The World Bank has approved a $100 million support program for the Africa Centres for Disease Control (Africa CDC) that will help enhance the institution’s technical capacity and strengthen its institutional framework to intensify support to African countries in preparing for, detecting, and responding to disease outbreaks and public health emergencies.
Today the African continent is addressing several infectious disease outbreaks in addition to COVID-19 and there are growing risks looking ahead. Recent assessments have revealed widespread gaps in the preparedness capacities of African countries that disproportionately impact the poorest and more vulnerable. Regional approaches to health policies and interventions in complementarity with country and global efforts underscore the value of a strong Africa CDC geared towards safeguarding the health of the continent.
In line with the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, which endorses health as a cornerstone agenda to achieving longer-term development goals, the Africa Centres for Disease Control Support Program to Combat Current and Future Public Health Threats Project will be critical to supporting the Africa CDC as it transitions to an autonomous health body of the African Union and solidifies its role as a leading regional and global public health institution. Earlier this year, AU member states awarded the Africa CDC with the status of an autonomous health body of the African Union.
“Africa is changing the dynamic in its journey to realizing a New Public Health Order. This project comes at a critical time as we focus on enhancing our support to AU Member States on the health security agenda and standing up our autonomous institution of the AU,” said Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, Acting Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control. “We view this project—but more importantly our partnership—with the World Bank as extremely important especially as the institution transitions. We look forward to collaborating with the World Bank and our partners to maximize the impact of this crucial investment in guaranteeing the future health of the continent.”
The project will help to cultivate regional capabilities critical to ensuring a resilient and prepared continent. It will do this by helping to build and maintain a robust public health workforce across countries’ health systems. This includes investments to increase the number of epidemiologists and outbreak responders at the subregional and member state level. It also includes strengthening leadership on the continental research and development and manufacturing agenda for vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics. Importantly, the project will help Africa CDC expand and strengthen its institutional footprint to provide tailored support to member states. This includes support to its Regional Collaborating Centers to contextualize, implement and network flagship programming such as laboratories and surveillance across subregions in close collaboration with countries, Regional Economic Communities and partners.
“Our investment in the Africa CDC underscores the World Bank’s long-term commitment to supporting African-led regional institutions and Africa’s public health preparedness agenda,” said Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Northern Africa. “Diseases do not respect borders and must be tackled collectively, requiring trusted leadership at the regional level and strong health systems across the continent.”
This International Development Association* (IDA) financed project builds on existing World Bank support (the first investment in the Africa CDC was approved in 2019) and further strengthens the relationship between African institutions on the preparedness agenda. The partnership is an opportunity for the World Bank to work with the Africa CDC on shaping the preparedness agenda that can help drive future financing, innovative thinking, and timely action to reduce the risk of priority diseases affecting Africa’s most vulnerable populations.
*The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 74 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has provided $458 billion to 114 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $29 billion over the last three years (FY19-FY21), with about 70 percent going to Africa.