IMF pushes for more funds in war against Covid-19 in Africa

Monday, January 17th, 2022 08:30 | By

International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stepped up its support to African countries as they steer their economies through the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and prepare for an inclusive recovery.

Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva wants the international community to move in and close the financing gap of the access to Covid-19 tools estimated at $23 billion (Sh2.3 trillion), for the sake of boosting recovery from the pandemic, especially in Africa.

Georgieva said Africa still requires access to tests, treatments, and protective equipment, adding; “It is critical the region has the tools and the necessary funds to build a capacity to produce and manufacture vaccines.

She also revealed that vaccination rates in the continent are still below 10 per cent, adding that only seven African countries reached the 40 per cent vaccination target in 2021. Kenya has, for instance, administered 10.8 million doses with 4.5 million full doses making it 8.5 per cent which is below the Africa average.

In 2021, the IMF — in collaboration with other global institutions — launched a plan to end the pandemic by vaccinating 40 per cent of the population of all countries by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by mid 2022, including Egypt. Georgieva pointed out that Africa remains reliant on Covid-19 vaccine imports and donations.

“The most immediate priority must be to guarantee predictability in vaccine deliveries, including through COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT),” she said.

Georgieva said the funding will be also necessary for Africa’s health systems to be able to vaccinate the local population swiftly as new supplies arrive, including through outreach efforts to reiterate the importance of vaccines and reduce misinformation and vaccine hesitancy.

During his eighth state of the nation address, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the country has already established the Kenya Biovax Institute Limited as a venture that would locally produce anti-Covid-19 vaccines as a first step towards actualising the objective. Countries such as Kenya have had their budgets heavily dented by vaccine purchases pushing them to the brink of default.

Future supply hitches

It is because of these imports that the Ministry of Health now says Kenya will start local manufacturer of Covid-19 vaccines by April as it seeks to cushion citizens from future supply hitches. 

“It is safe to say that the basic legal and industrial requirements for local fill and finish manufacturing of vaccines have been largely achieved,” Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said recently.

“The development of wholly local vaccine production process has been initiated with support of KEMRI who will remain the main partner in capacity building”, he added.

Kagwe observed that local production of human vaccines will support public healthcare programmes, national and regional economic growth, national security as well as enhance the capacity to control disease outbreaks that may arise in the future.

Financial markets analyst Aly Khan Satchu says Covid-19 variants still pose serious threats to the economy. “With the current vaccination rates, Covid is still an exogenous uncertainty in 2022,” he said.

Georgieva referred to the Institute Pasteur in Dakar — the world-class institute that focuses on fighting against infectious diseases in the continent — as one of the promising tools to be used to counter the pandemic.

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