Addressing African response to COVID-19 pandemic

Ramaphosha cyril 8 AprilSouth African President Cyril Ramaphosa and chairperson of the African Union (AU) convened a second and follow-up teleconference meeting of the AU Bureau of heads of state and government to discuss the African response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Dr John Nkengasong, director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gave a continental update which highlighted rapidly increasing COVID-19 infection rates across the continent.

Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus emphasised the importance of acting now to test and to guarantee equitable access to test kits, masks and personal protective equipment (PPEs), vaccines and therapeutics as soon as they become available.

The Bureau of Heads of State and Government commended the able stewardship of exemplary leadership of Dr Tedros in leading the global response to the pandemic.

The heads of states highlighted the unprecedented threat that COVID-19 presents to the health of African citizens and to the continent’s hard-won developmental and economic gains. They recognised the imperative to establish humanitarian and trade corridors in a spirit of African solidarity and integration.

Given the urgent need for medical supplies and equipment, the Heads of states called for international cooperation and support while up-scaling local production on the continent.

The heads of states noted with satisfaction progress made in operationalising the African Union COVID-19 Response Fund established on 26 March 2020 to which members pledged the sum of US$12.5mn and an additional US$4.5mn to the Africa CDC.

Cognizant of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries, the Bureau reiterated the need for rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20 and other international partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is critical that these institutions review their current disbursement policies to display flexibility and speed, including raising the availability of IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

The Bureau further echoed the call for a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including, deferred payments, the immediate suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external public and private debt to create fiscal space for COVID-19 response measures.

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