The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved its Strategy for Quality Health Infrastructure in Africa 2022-2030, a historic first for the Bank. The strategy was developed in response to a call by the Bank’s Governors for the institution to define its role in addressing Africa’s health infrastructure deficits, highlighted by the ongoing pandemic.
The strategy focuses on three categories of health infrastructure that match the African Development Bank’s comparative advantage, providing the flexibility to respond to the diverse needs of the Bank’s African member countries. It will be anchored in national health systems and sets out three cross-cutting themes: improved internet and communications technology connectivity, to strengthen health information systems and support innovation; promoting regional collaboration and harmonizing health policies and regulation; and policy dialogue and technical assistance.
“We must give hope to the poor and the vulnerable, by ensuring that every African, regardless of their income level, gets access to quality health care, as well as health insurance and social protection,” Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina commented.
The strategy is in line with one of the African Development Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities, namely improving the quality of life for the people of Africa. It also echoes the objectives of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 regarding good health and well-being, as well as the African Union’s Agenda 2063 plan to transform Africa into a global powerhouse. In addition, it forms part of broader efforts by the African Development Bank to expand access to healthcare on the continent.
The Covid-19 pandemic has further exposed shortcomings in national health systems in Africa, overwhelming testing and treatment capacity. In future, Africa’s growing population will place further strain on infrastructure. Health facilities are unevenly distributed, with major gaps in rural areas. Only half of primary healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan Africa have access to clean water and adequate sanitation and only a third have access to reliable electricity.
Against this backdrop, a grossly underfunded healthcare system in Africa, needs around $26 billion in annual capital investments. As part of its health agenda, the African Development Bank has committed to investing $3 billion in Africa’s pharmaceutical industry over 10 years. The Bank also launched a multibillion-dollar Covid-19 Response Facility to support its regional members through the pandemic.
“The three pillars and crossing cutting themes give the Bank the flexibility to respond to the diverse needs of different regional member countries in a more impactful and sustainable manner,” said Dr. Beth Dunford, the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, welcomed the Board’s approval of the Strategy. “The Quality Health Infrastructure for Africa Strategy sets out how the Bank will build up and consolidate its comparative advantage in health infrastructure and contribute to improving the quality of life for the people of Africa,” she added.
The Strategy was overwhelmingly endorsed via a series of consultations, including with health ministers of the Bank’s 54 regional member countries, development partners and civil society.