The World Bank provides $250 million to Ethiopia, Zambia, and the African Union to combat epidemics and advance critical public health priorities
WASHINGTON, December 10, 2019— The Board of the World Bank Group has approved a total of $250 million in International Development Association (IDA)  credits and grants to help the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Zambia, and the African Union (AU) counter the spread of infectious diseases and address key regional and continental public health issues.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Regional Investment Financing Project (ACDCP) will strengthen disease surveillance, prevention, and emergency-response systems across the African continent. The project will finance the establishment of laboratories, transnational surveillance networks, emergency-response mechanisms, and other public health assets designed to manage diseases on a regional and continental scale.
It will support the development of guidelines and standards to improve coordination between the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) Secretariat and national public health institutions across the continent and facilitate the sharing of public health assets and the exchange of vital data on infectious diseases.
“Collaboration is vital to overcome individual financial constraints and realize economies of scale in population coverage”, says Patricia Geli, Senior Economist and Task Team Leader. The project will build the capacity of regional and continental public health institutions by supporting the development of a diverse and skilled cadre of health workers capable of fulfilling the Africa CDC’s mandate to reduce the burden of infectious disease and proactively counter epidemics. Together, these activities will support the efficient use of scarce public health resources, overcome national-level capacity constraints, and maximize the positive effects of integrated transnational disease-surveillance and emergency-response systems.
Deborah Wetzel, World Bank Director of Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, hailed the Board’s approval of the ACDCP, noting that “infectious disease outbreaks, including the recent West Africa Ebola disease outbreak and the one ongoing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, highlight the importance of swift detection and rapid response to combat and limit the spread of infectious diseases to other countries. This new project will enhance cross-border collaboration on disease surveillance and response and will strengthen solidarity among African states.”
The ACDCP’s benefits will extend far beyond Ethiopia and Zambia, as national health authorities and Africa CDC institutions in both countries will play a key role in addressing the incidence and spread of infectious diseases across eastern and southern Africa.
Strengthening epidemic preparedness and response capacities in Ethiopia and Zambia will help protect vulnerable populations in neighboring countries, including refugees and displaced groups in border areas. Moreover, the project will develop collaborative networks that will enable health authorities in all 55 African Union member states to benefit from the laboratories and other public health assets created in Ethiopia and Zambia. “Effective disease surveillance and response mechanisms are a regional public good and stemming the spread of epidemics will have highly positive social and economic spillover effects on countries across Africa”, Wetzel added.
The activities and objectives of the ACDCP are closely aligned with the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which aims to bring all communicable diseases on the continent under control by 2063. The project also supports the World Bank Group’s efforts to eliminate extreme poverty, promote shared prosperity, and enhance regional integration through coordinated action on critical transnational priorities, including disease surveillance, prevention, and control.
Established in 1960, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low- or zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve social welfare. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the 1.5 billion people who live in the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Annual IDA commitments have averaged about US$18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.