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Afreximbank, EIB unveil €200m pharmaceutical financing scheme for sub-Saharan Africa

Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | The European Investment Bank (EIB), the world’s largest multilateral bank, and Afreximbank, the pan-African multilateral financial institution, have joined hands to finance healthcare and pharmaceutical manufacturing projects across sub-Saharan Africa in an attempt to strengthen health resilience on the continent.

The new €200 million healthcare investment scheme was formally launched on March 8 by Thomas Östros, the EIB Vice President and Denys Denya, the Afreximbank Executive Vice President at the 5th United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries that took place March 5-9 in Doha, Qatar.

Afreximbank and the EIB will each provide €100 million new investment to update and expand public healthcare facilities and enhance production of safe, affordable and effective medicines across sub-Saharan Africa.

The new Africa health financing initiative, part of the European Union Global Gateway initiative, has been designed by health, financial and technical experts from EIB and Afreximbank to unlock crucial investment to improve access to local healthcare and scale-up production of medicines essential to tackle deadly diseases such as cancer, HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

“As part of Team Europe, the European Investment Bank supports high-impact health investment around the world. The new EIB-Afreximbank health resilience initiative will unlock €200 million of financing to strengthen health resilience across sub-Saharan Africa by improving access to healthcare and increasing local pharmaceutical manufacturing,” said Östros.

“This targeted financing cooperation between the EIB and leading financial partner Afreximbank demonstrates how partnership between Europe and Africa is improving lives and unlocking priority health investment.”

Improving access to healthcare

Experts in the health sector say the rapid expansion of affordable public healthcare is crucial to improve public health in Africa. The new EIB-Afreximbank initiative will support new investment in health facilities, including construction and equipment of clinics and hospitals, essential to enable rapid treatment of communicable diseases, reduce infant mortality and facilitate accessibility to public healthcare.

Presently, only a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa host pharmaceutical production companies. The new health resilience investment initiative will also target financing to scale up local production of quality pharmaceuticals in sub-Saharan Africa. This will help to address the chronic shortage of essential medicines needed to combat cancer, HIV, malaria and tuberculosis as well as improve medical care for new-born infants and mothers.

Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the European Investment Bank has provided more than €12 billion for health investment around the world, including support for vaccine development, production and distribution, upgrading hospitals and improving medical education. In recent years, the EIB has supported health and healthcare investment in Angola, Benin, Ghana, Morocco and Niger alongside supporting the COVAX Covid vaccine initiative across Africa.

Afreximbank spearheaded Africa’s effective response to the COVID pandemic by financing the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) that enabled pooled procurement of PPEs, and providing US $2 billion dollars to procure and distribute vaccines under the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust programme (AVAT).

“The coronavirus pandemic highlighted how the health of millions of African is uniquely threatened by limited access to both effective healthcare and affordable medicines; Afreximbank is pleased to join forces with the European Investment Bank to provide a co-lending facility of €200 million to improve effective responses to health challenges across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Denys Denya, the Executive Vice President of Afreximbank.

“This investment will build on the success of our existing cooperation designed to enhance access to finance by companies impacted by the pandemic and climate change induced challenges.”

Richard Willis, a communications expert at EIB told The Independent in an email that health sector and pharmaceutical partners in Uganda can contact Afreximbank right away to discuss possible financing of relevant projects.

“The new financing will be available for public healthcare investment, including hospitals, clinics and health centres, and new investment in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing,” he told The Independent on March 8.

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