The COVID-19 pandemic hit the East African Community (EAC) region hard, with an estimated output loss of between $37 and $79 billion, the EAC Director Social Sectors, Dr. Irene Isaka has disclosed.
Speaking on behalf of the EAC Secretary General, Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki during a workshop of Technical Working Group on Communicable and non-communicable diseases held in Moshi, Tanzania, Isaka said, “This led to reductions in household income and business disruption of supply chains for tradable goods and services especially in the aviation, tourism and hospitality industries, where entire sector value-chains were rendered dysfunctional,”
She commended the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the support extended to the region that facilitated the bloc’s regional COVID-19 response efforts.
The AfDB support was directed towards the setup of coordination systems for testing; test results verification; training of health workers and procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), test kits and laboratory consumables.
Dr. Isaka acknowledged the contribution of the AfDB as a game changer in the implementation of the EAC COVID-19 Regional Recovery Plan.
Dr. Isaka noted that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted several structural and health systems challenges which called for strengthening of the key pillars of region health systems. “Let me take this opportunity to urge the Partner States to draw lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic response to build resilient health systems in out region,” he said.
She reiterated the EAC Secretariat’s commitment to collaborate with Partner States and development partners to build better, stronger and healthy communities.
On her part, the Principal Health Economist, Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department (AHHD) from AfDB, Dr. Elizabeth Owiti said the Bank recognises the centrality of health in improving quality of life for Africans and enabling them to achieve their potential.
“I call upon the EAC Partner States to come up with a plan to overcome gaps in national health infrastructure, which have been exposed by COVID-19 and other health crises,” she said.
The African Development Fund (ADF) approved grants totaling $9.52 million to strengthen responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in East Africa and the Horn, and in the Comoros under the Project Multinational COVID-19 Response.
The EAC Secretariat received US$8.79 million in tranches of $8.16 million and US$629,582 while Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) received $729, 581.
The 20th to 22nd April, 2023 Technical Working Group meeting was convened to facilitate a monitoring visit by the AfDB to assess the progress in the implementation of the COVID-19 project funded by the Bank.
The meeting was attended by experts from the EAC Partner States’ Ministries responsible for Health and Ministries responsible for EAC Affairs, African Research and Impact Network (ARIN) staff and members of the advisory Board based in Nairobi, and a representative of the African Development Bank (AfDB).