The President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, has reiterated the Bank’s commitment to ensuring that the continent’s 1.4 billion people have better access to healthcare quality.
Adesina spoke during a visit to the Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal, a biomedical research center that has been at the forefront of Africa’s fight against Covid-19. Calling for an end to vaccine inequality, Adesina observed that “people are talking about the third, fourth and even fifth dose while in Africa we are always looking for the first dose.”
About 11% of Africans have been fully immunized, compared to 50% to 70% of populations in some of the world’s wealthiest nations.
“So many reasons why the African Development Bank supports the African pharmaceutical sector. We must have the capacity to produce medicines here in Africa to ensure the health of our people. We cannot depend on a health system concentrated outside the continent and leave the health of 1.4 billion people to the generosity of others,” Adesina said.
The head of the Bank said that to boost the pharmaceutical industry, technical capacity, raw materials and infrastructure are needed. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted these deficits.
Africa imports almost all of its vaccines. When Covid-19 emerged in 2020, the Institut Pasteur in Dakar was one of only two places on the continent handling testing for the virus. This year, Senegal should become one of the few African countries to produce vaccines against Covid-19. Similar plans have been reported in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Rwanda and South Africa.
The Bank has pledged to invest $3 billion in the African pharmaceutical industry over 10 years. The Institut Pasteur in Dakar has invested heavily in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Institut Pasteur in Dakar was already producing and distributing vaccines to fight against other diseases on the continent.
During his visit to the center’s laboratories, President Adesina praised the researchers for doing “an excellent job”.
Adesina said: “We will financially support the Institut Pasteur in Dakar for the production of rapid tests, pharmaceuticals and vaccines against Covid-19. I am impressed by the level of expertise of the researchers.”
In May 2020, the African Development Bank approved an €88 million loan to Senegal to support its efforts to combat the impact of Covid-19. The funding provided food assistance to around 1.1 million households, provided around 800 hospital beds and equipped several epidemic treatment centres.