The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved a 100.5 million euros loan to the government of Gabon as budget support to mitigate against the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The loan will support the central African nation’s Budget Support Programme in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis or PABURC, which aims to strengthen the health system and mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on households and businesses.
“The response is focusing on containing the spread of the virus, increasing public resources allocated to the health sector, and boosting the resilience of the most vulnerable communities, as well as to maintain livelihoods and shore up domestic business and industry in order to maintain the production system and pave the way for rapid recovery,” said Abdoulaye Coulibaly, Bank Director, Governance and Public Financial Management.
The novel coronavirus is exerting strong pressure on a national health system that is not equipped to deal with major pandemics. Faced with a high risk of community transmission and the re-emergence of infectious and parasitic communicable diseases, health facilities in Gabon are insufficient.
The country has four recently constructed hospital centres, 9 regional hospitals, 47 departmental hospitals, 34 health centres, 413 dispensaries and 157 health huts, but only has 58 intensive care beds.
The drop in global demand and the sharp fall in oil prices has hit the oil-rich nation, contributing to a sharp deterioration in Gabon’s terms of trade and a significant drop in budget revenues. Given the limited budgetary margins, and the insufficient human and financial resources allocated to health, the country faces a crisis. The national social security system and family benefits scheme, which has been mobilized to respond to the crisis, requires improvement.
Bank analysts warn that Gabon, like much of the globe and the rest of the continent, could fall into recession in 2020, and estimate a negative real GDP growth rate of -1.7% for the country, due to the pandemic.
Gabon recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on 12 March 2020. As of 24 June 2020, the number of cases stood at 4,849, with 39 deaths and 2,107 recoveries. The hotspot of the pandemic remains the capital Grand Libreville and Port-Gentil.