ADDIS ABEBA – Members of East African economic bloc, Igad, have decided today to establish an emergency fund for the control of Coronavirus pandemic in the region.
Leaders of member nations, except Eritrea, convened an extraordinary summit via Video Conference to deliberate on ways to combat the spread of the virus.
During the meeting, the executive secretary of IGAD, Workneh Gebeyehu reported on the gravity of the challenge posed by COVID-19 as the region is still recovering from the worst desert locust invasion in 25 years.
He added, the region is bracing for a second invasion with devastating consequences for food security and livelihoods in the IGAD region.
Prime Minister of Sudan and current chairperson of the IGAD Abdalla Hamdok, on his part, emphasized on the need for a collective regional strategy to combat COVID-19.
Sudan’s PM has called for the establishment of an IGAD regional emergency fund for the control of pandemic diseases.
The IGAD Heads of State and Government agreed on the issue.
According to their communique released at the end of their meeting, the leaders resolved to formulate an IGAD Regional Response Strategy to pandemic diseases particularly COVID-19.
IGAD Ministers of Health and Finance will facilitate in the next step when they meet virtually to inform the strategy, according to the communique.
The leaders also agreed to set up an IGAD Emergency Fund for the control of pandemic diseases and the strengthening of health systems in the region, it says.
The fund will mobilize support from the International Community to combat COVID-19, strengthen national health systems and build local manufacturing capacity for medical equipment and supplies to fight pandemic diseases.
The leaders also agreed to “ask international financial institutions to cancel the debts of IGAD Member states in order to free up resources to fight the Coronavirus,” and mobilize support from medical professionals in the diaspora, it said.