European Investment Bank joins WHO in pandemic help for Africa

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Investment Bank (EIB) said on Friday it would boost its cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) as it seeks to fight the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, in particular in vulnerable African countries.

The partnership will strengthen primary health care in 10 African countries by scaling up financing to ensure essential supply chains, including of personal protective equipment and diagnostics, the two bodies said.

The EIB, the long-term lending institution of the European Union, said the tie-up would help governments in low and middle-income countries to finance and secure access to essential medical supplies and protective equipment through centralised procurement.

While the bank has said it plans a 1.4 billion euro response to address the health, social and economic impact of COVID-19 in Africa, it gave no details on how much funding it would put behind the WHO partnership.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the tie-up would “contribute to a more effective response to COVID-19 and other pressing health challenges.”

More than 3.27 million people around the world have been infected with COVID-19, and 232,200 have died, according to a Reuters tally as of 0200 GMT on Friday.

Reporting by Kate Kelland; Editing by Pravin Char