Capacity Imperatives of Pandemic Responses: Building Resilient Health Systems and Ensuring Socio-economic Transformation in Africa - Policy Brief

This Policy Brief provides insights from the African Capacity Building Foundation-Islamic Development Bank (ACBF-IsDB) technical study, “Capacity Imperatives of Pandemic Responses: Building Resilient Health Systems and Ensuring Socio-Economic Transformation in Africa.” The study examines the capacity challenges experienced by African countries in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and proposes capacity development actions aimed at building resilient health systems and supporting socio-economic transformation for dealing with future outbreaks and pandemics. Although the insights and lessons are mainly drawn from the COVID-19 pandemic, the proposed recommendations are valid for other pandemics or any health crisis. The Policy Brief aims to provide African policymakers and other stakeholders with clear capacity building options to respond to COVID-19 and prepare for rebuilding post-COVID-19 to ensure that the continent is prepared and ready for future pandemics. The Policy Brief also draws from lessons from “the Health Sector Policy for Affordable Quality Health Services for Human Development” of the IsDB, and a publication by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, South-South Cooperation at the Time of COVID-19: “Building Solidarity among Developing Countries.” Some of the key findings include the adoption of best practices by African governments to improve readiness for future pandemics. For example, several African governments demonstrated leadership and management approaches that have played an important role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Other actions included monitoring and maintaining border security, disinfecting roads and public buildings, and operating military hospitals. In addition, the police have been supportive in maintaining public order, enforcing social distancing, and producing and supplying protective masks to the population free of charge. These are decisions and positive measures that can be capitalized upon for future outbreaks. The study has uncovered significant institutional and human capacity challenges in African countries that need to be addressed to improve preparedness and build resilience to respond to future outbreaks and pandemics. Specific recommendations for action on capacity development for policymakers and other stakeholders are proposed.