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CORONA VIRUS

ECOWAS Distributes Second Consignment of Covid-19 Medical Supplies

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) through the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) has started the distribution of its second consigment of Covid-19 medical supplies as part of regional response to the pandemic to Member States starting with the Nigerian government.

The consignment consist of PPEs, Covid-19 test kits, consumables and other medical equipments. These items were donated by UNDP, GIZ and the European Union (EU).

Speaking at the handover ceremony in Abuja, the Director-General of WAHO, Prof. Stanley Okolo, said the donation was part of the organisation’s mandate to support ECOWAS States in their national health response.

Mr Okolo noted that the medical supplies worth over U$18 million will be distributed to 15 West Africa countries including Nigeria.

He said the supplies will support countries in the fight against the Covid-19 virus even as Nigeria has received the first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines.

“The provision of critical medical supplies to aid the fight against the pandemic is one of the contributions we make towards achieving the regional health agenda at WAHO” he said.

“We at WAHO have set up ourselves to support both strategically and operationally. Vaccines are now beginning to arrive, and that in itself is a very good thing”.

He noted that WAHO has over half a million diagnostic test kits to be distributed. Some of the distributed supplies include Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), oxygen tube, extension, PCR tubes, and Oxygen concentrator flow splitter.

Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, represented by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Finance, Halima Ahmed under-scored the importance of the medical supplies to the fight against the pandemic.

She therefore stressed the urgent need to strengthen regional and national capacities to respond to the health emergencies such as COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahmed commended the effort of the Ni-gerian government for the protection of all Nigerians through evidence-based prevention and integrated disease surveillance.

European Union, Head of Cooperation European Union (EU) Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mrs. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer said, “As part of a rolling programme of procurement to support the on-going response to Covid-19 and strengthen the health systems in the region, the consignments handed over today contain critical personal protective equipment (PPE) consisting of aprons, gloves and boots which will be used by the health care workers involved in response activities and patient care”.

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CORONA VIRUS

Tanzania Says It Never Suspended Data On Covid-19

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Last year in May, Tanzania stopped publishing data on Covid-19 situation while other countries in the East African regional bloc gave daily updates of statistics on the pandemic.

However, one year later, yesterday, the Tanzanian government said it never stopped keeping track of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country despite having stopped releasing data in May, last year.

Deputy Health minister Godwin Mollel said, “statistics have always been there. If there were no statistics or updates on what was going on, then everybody would have been very worried.”

Mollel said that the government had its own way of communicating with the relevant bodies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), regarding various diseases.

Meanwhile, the director of Preventive Services in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Leonard Subi, issued a statement admitting growing fears of Covid-19 third wave in Tanzania and urging all stakeholders to take action.

Dr Subi directed that the private and public sectors must take steps to strengthen all preventive measures to curb the threat of the third wave of the virus, including wearing face masks, hand washing, sanitizing and social distancing.

“Private sectors, social and religious leaders should now take action by influencing communities to take all necessary precautions, by educating, and implementing interventions to protect themselves from threat of the Covid-19 third wave,” Dr Subi said over the weekend.

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CORONA VIRUS

Rwanda Imposes Tough Lockdown Again

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Movements between districts and to or from the capital Kigali have been frozen and the directive will be reviewed after two weeks.

This is not the first time, Rwanda government has imposed such a measure aimed at preventing the further spread of Covid-19.

Presently, Rwanda has recorded a total of 30,813 infections since March last year when the first covid-19 case was reported. So far Deaths recorded have reached 382. A total of 26,704 cases have recovered.

With the growing surge of infections in the country, the government has again revised downwards the curfew hours to 7PM- 4AM.

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CORONA VIRUS

World Bank, African Union Team Up To Support Rapid Vaccination For Over 400 Million People In Africa

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The African Finance Ministers and the World Bank Group met today to fast track vaccine acquisition on the continent and avoid a third wave.

In a boost to the African Union’s target to vaccinate 60% of the continent’s population by 2022, the World Bank and the AU announced that they are partnering to support the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) initiative with resources to allow countries to purchase and deploy vaccines for up to 400 million people across Africa.

This extraordinary regional effort complements COVAX and comes at a time of rising COVID-19 cases in the region.

World Bank financing is available to support the purchase and deployment of doses secured by AVATT.

“The World Bank is very pleased to support African countries through this partnership with the African Union to quickly provide hundreds of millions of doses,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass.”Working together, we can expedite doses to countries and support deployment. Countries urgently need more pathways for acquiring vaccines that match their needs and have early delivery schedules.”

“As a result of this joint initiative between the World Bank and African institutions such as the Africa Import Export Bank and the Africa Centre for Disease Control, we now have the capacity to vaccinate at least 400 million people, or 30% of our population of 1.3 billion,” said Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy and coordinator of the AVATT.

He added that, “We really appreciate the extraordinary partnership on this initiative between the AU Vaccine Champion, HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, and David Malpass, the President of the World Bank.”

The World Bank has US$12 billion in vaccine financing available to help countries purchase and distribute vaccines and address readiness issues.

The World Bank has already approved operations to support vaccine roll out in 36 countries.

By end June, the World Bank expects to be supporting vaccination efforts in 50 countries, two thirds of which are in Africa.

The World Bank also has strong partnerships with regional institutions such as the Africa Center for Disease Control, West African Health Organization, and the African Union Commission to enhance cross-border collaboration on disease surveillance, preparedness and response.

The World Bank-financed COVID-19 vaccine operations allow countries to purchase vaccines through COVAX, through regional initiatives, and through bilateral procurement from manufacturers.

As such, the Bank has been working closely with AVATT to see that countries in Africa can use World Bank financing to purchase COVID-19 doses through the AVATT initiative as well.

The goal of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which is an initiative of the African Union Commission, Africa CDC, Afreximbank, the AU Special Envoys for COVID-19, and UNECA, is to provide the continent with sufficient and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines.

It has already successfully negotiated 220 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine for use by African countries, with an option for 180 million more based on demand.

AVATT works and coordinates closely with the African Ministers of Finance in the efforts towards realizing herd immunity for full reopening of the continent’s economies.

“A key priority in this initiative is to make sure the purchase of vaccines translates into people getting vaccinated,” noted Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary of the ECA.

World Bank financing and technical assistance is available to help countries effectively deploy vaccines, including expanding storage and building cold chain, developing tracking systems to make sure vaccines reach people, training health workers and supporting citizen and community engagement to address vaccine hesitancy.

Beyond the current emergency, building resilient health systems in Africa that can respond to future pandemics will be key.

In addition, the IFC, the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, is leading a consortium to support Africa’s regional vaccine production.

Work toward investments in South Africa, Senegal, and Rwanda is at an advanced stage.

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