GABON – The government of Gabon has secured US$112.87 million (about 100.8 million euros) from the African Development to support mitigation programs against the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier, the African Development Fund had approved US$8.9 million in grant funding to bolster COVID-19-related control measures in six Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

The funds according to the African Development Bank, will facilitate the procurement of laboratory and medical supplies in Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, all SADC nations.

The African Development Bank had also approved US$683,000 in grants to São Tomé & Príncipe, to support the two-island nation’s response to the pandemic and its impacts.

AfDB explained that the loan will support Gabon’s Budget Support Programme in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis or PABURC.

PABURC according to the AFDB statement aims to strengthen the health system and mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on households and businesses.

“The response is focusing on containing the spread of the virus, increasing public resources allocated to the health sector, and boosting the resilience of the most vulnerable communities,” said Abdoulaye Coulibaly, Bank Director, Governance and Public Financial Management.

Coulibaly further explained that Gabon’s COVID19 response programs were also aimed at maintaining livelihoods and shoring up domestic business and industry in order to maintain the production system and pave the way for rapid recovery.

The novel coronavirus is exerting huge pressure on a national health system that is not equipped to deal with major pandemics.

Faced with a high risk of community transmission and the re-emergence of infectious and parasitic communicable diseases, health facilities in Gabon are insufficient.

The country has four recently constructed hospital centres, 9 regional hospitals, 47 departmental hospitals, 34 health centres, 413 dispensaries and 157 health huts, but only has 58 intensive care beds.

The drop in global demand and the sharp fall in oil prices has also hit the oil-rich nation hard, contributing to a sharp deterioration in Gabon’s terms of trade and a significant drop in budget revenues.

Given the limited budgetary margins, and the insufficient human and financial resources allocated to health, the country faces a crisis.

 The national social security system and family benefits scheme, which has been mobilized to respond to the crisis, requires improvement.

Africa Development Bank analysts warn that Gabon, like much of the globe and the rest of the continent, could fall into recession in 2020, and estimate a negative real GDP growth rate of -1.7% for the country, due to the pandemic.

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