WEST AFRICA – The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors has approved US$22.4 million for emergency project in support of three, low-income ECOWAS nations, Gambia, Mali and Niger, to bolster their health systems in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Part of the funding, US$9.55 million, will provide screening tests, laboratory equipment, ventilators and personal protective equipment for medical personnel in the three countries.  

The remaining US$12.83 million will be used to strengthen and integrate the health systems of Gambia, Mali and Niger to better address the pandemic.

It will help to coordinate and equip national teams, fit out health facilities, train health personnel, provide medical equipment and pharmaceuticals and help to establish early-warning systems.  

The operation will be implemented by the West African Health Organization (WAHO), in accordance with the mandate to coordinate interventions accorded to it by ECOWAS heads of state and government at their extraordinary meeting of 23 April 2020 to harmonize the fight against the pandemic.  

In the meeting, the West African Health Minister further noted that 14 weeks into the pandemic in the region, 35,115 people had been confirmed Covid-19 positive, of whom 56% still had active infection, 42% had recovered and 2% had unfortunately lost their lives as art 1 June 2020. 

They therefor agreed to, among other measures, mobilize more resources to support national and regional Covid-19 response capacity, institute measures to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on the population and, strengthen capacity for contact tracing, isolation & treatment. 

The meeting of the Ministerial Coordinating Committee on Health comprising of all 15 ECOWAS Ministers of Health was held on June 2, 2020 with 12 Ministers participating, whilst three were represented by another Minister, a Deputy Minister and a Permanent Secretary. 

Also in attendance were the President of the ECOWAS Commission; ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure; ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs & Free Movement; and ECOWAS Commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research.