WASHINGTON, December 19, 2023 - The World Bank Board today approved a Health Security Program for Western and Central Africa in a move to boost health security in the sub-region. During its first phase, the $500 million IDA* financed multiphase operation will involve Cabo Verde, Guinea, Liberia, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to increase collaboration and improve health system capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to health emergencies in the region. The Program will also leverage financing from other partners, namely the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents, and the Pandemic Fund.
The new regional program seeks to ramp up multisectoral preparedness and response capacities for health emergencies, relying on a “One Health approach” to optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems. Health security interventions aim to address the intertwined nature of pandemics, antimicrobial resistance, and climate-related challenges persistent in the region, with priority given to gender related risks and equity considerations. The program focuses on strengthening critical interconnected systems to improve health security for about 627 million people, targeting vulnerable groups such as infants and children, adolescents, mothers (given the high burden on maternal and perinatal conditions in the region), and the elderly, who are most vulnerable to health risks. Recognizing the priority of One Health, livestock farmers and the general population will benefit from reduced exposure to zoonotic diseases.
To reinforce country networks and regional health agendas, the program will support ECOWAS to strengthen regional institutional capacities and efforts. Furthermore, to enhance regional health security governance, standardized regulations will be established to support the handling and transfer of biological materials, data and information sharing, and coordination of core prevention and detection. In addition, preparedness efforts will be facilitated at regional, cross-border, and national levels.
“By investing in regional collaboration and strengthening health systems’ capacities, the new regional program will ensure resilient and responsive health systems in the face of health emergencies across Western and Central Africa”, said Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Regional Integration in Africa and the Middle East. “It will build and sustain efforts to prevent outbreaks from becoming epidemics or pandemics and will prioritize prevention, detection of health emergencies, and effective responses at community, national, and regional levels, ensuring a swift and coordinated approach”.
*The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Established in 1960, it provides grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. IDA resources help effect positive change in the lives of the 1.6 billion people living in the countries that are eligible for its assistance. Since its inception, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments are constantly on the rise and have averaged $21 billion over the past three years, with about 61% going to Africa.