AfDB to support community-backed healthcare initiatives in Africa

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has pledged funding and technical support to roll out community-based healthcare initiatives around Africa at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) in Nairobi.

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina said rollout of community healthcare initiatives like the ones implemented by the Republic of Rwanda could be repeated in other countries to achieve better results.

Rwanda has implemented a ground-breaking and innovative healthcare system which aims at making health workers available to the local communities while also distributing bed nets to prevent disease outbreaks.

The system also ensures drugs are strictly regulated to prevent potential risks.

"We need to strengthen regulations against fake drugs and here I am speaking as someone who has lost family to the use of fake drugs," President Adesina said during a high-level panel debate on "Universal Health Coverage in Africa" at the TICAD Summit on Friday. "There is a deficit of qualified health workers. We have work to do in filling the gaps by strengthening the regulations."

Making his interventions on the healthcare investments required to prevent a repeat of catastrophic disease outbreaks such as the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa, President Adesina said the discussion about achieving universal healthcare coverage to all was important to cutting poverty.

"This conversation is important because it allows us to advance the Sustainable Development Agenda. Africa absolutely needs support. Africa has made tremendous progress in tackling child mortality and maternal mortality is down, but malaria incidences in Africa are increasing," Adesina said.

The President of the AfDB said ensuring equal growth was critical to Africa, which has recorded a decline in the quality of life, measured by the life expectancy, which has dropped by 13 years. In contrast, other countries, such as Japan, have recorded better life expectancy, measured by quality of healthcare.

"We must put people at the centre of development. Touching people's lives is absolutely critical," Adesina said during the discussion, which attracted several Heads of State.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who attended the session, said his country would invest in strengthening Africa's capacity and capability to respond to disease outbreaks.

"Japan has proved it can take preventive measures during disease outbreaks. During the last outbreak of the yellow fever, we dispatched disaster-relief teams to Congo to help them handle the outbreak," Prime Minister Abe told the Ministers of Health and heads of international agencies in attendance.

The Japanese Prime Minister said his country would support training of personnel in addition to providing policy support.

"Let us work together for a more resilient Africa," the Japanese Prime Minister said.

The Japanese officials have pledged to invest funds in strengthening capacity to detect diseases and would support countries to implement measures and guidelines that create a framework for joint action in case of an outbreak, the Japanese Prime Minister said.

During the Summit, Japan's Minister for Health, Labour and Welfare, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, announced Japan's contribution of US $1.1 billion for global health institutions, including US $50 million for the World Health Organization. The funds would also be channeled through the World Bank's Pandemic Emergency Facility. The World Bank has set up the facility to act as an avenue for funding measures to deal with disease outbreaks and to provide funding towards strengthening efforts to respond quickly to disease emergencies.

The Japanese Health Minister said these funds would enable the global institutions to better deal with emergency outbreaks in Africa. The Japanese officials said the funds were announced in solidarity with Africa.