The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors Friday approved a first set of emergency support operations for developing countries around the world, using a dedicated, fast-track facility for COVID-19 (coronavirus) response. The first group of projects, amounting to $1.9 billion (Shs7.2trillion), will assist 25 countries, and new operations are moving forward in over 40 countries using the fast-track process. In addition, the World Bank is working worldwide to redeploy resources in existing World Bank financed projects worth up to $1.7 billion, including through restructuring, use of emergency components of existing projects (CERCs) and triggering of CAT DDOs and spanning every region.
The World Bank Group is prepared to deploy up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to support COVID-19 measures that will help countries respond to immediate health consequences of the pandemic and bolster economic recovery. The broader economic program will aim to shorten the time to recovery, create conditions for growth, support small and medium enterprises, and help protect the poor and vulnerable. There will be a strong poverty focus in these operations, with an emphasis on policy-based financing, and protecting the poorest households and the environment.
“The World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we already have health response operations moving forward in over 65 countries,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass (pictured).
“We are working to strengthen developing nations’ ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and shorten the time to economic and social recovery. The poorest and most vulnerable countries will likely be hit the hardest, and our teams around the world remain focused on country-level and regional solutions to address the ongoing crisis.”
Responding to widespread supply chain disruptions, the World Bank is also helping countries access critically needed medical supplies by reaching out to suppliers on behalf of governments. The World Bank is also encouraging others to provide financial support to developing countries for the COVID-19 health response.
“This fast response package will save lives and help detect, prevent and respond to COVID-19 in the countries we serve,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations. “Our country operations will be coordinated at a global level to ensure best practice is quickly shared, including approaches to strengthen national health systems and prepare for potential follow-on waves of this devastating virus.”
Among the initial projects approved:
Africa: $82 million will help Ethiopia address critical needs for COVID-19 preparedness and response, including the provision of vital medical equipment, health system capacity-building, and support to establish treatment centers. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, $47 million will provide immediate support to put in place containment strategies, train medical staff and provide equipment to ensure rapid case detection and contact tracing.
East Asia and the Pacific: In Mongolia, $26.9 million will help provide training for emergency care doctors, nurses, and paramedics; purchase medical and laboratory equipment and supplies; rehabilitate health care facilities; and strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to health crises. In Cambodia, $20 million will help establish laboratories and isolation and treatment centers in 25 provincial referral hospitals and equip them with essential medical and testing supplies.
Europe and Central Asia: In Tajikistan, $11.3 million will help expand intensive care capacity through equipment, supplies, and training, as well as supporting coordination with the public. The most vulnerable households will also be protected through temporary social assistance. In the Kyrgyz Republic, $12.15 million will help boost the capacity of rapid-response teams, hospitals and laboratories by providing medical and laboratory supplies, ICU equipment, and preparedness funds for hospitals.
Latin America and the Caribbean: Haiti, the region’s poorest country, will benefit from a $20 million IDA grant with immediate support to minimize COVID-19 transmission through more testing for early detection and rapid response teams to help contain outbreaks. The financing will also mobilize additional health staff and provide equipment to improve patient care. In Ecuador, $20 million will help finance medical supplies for COVID-19 cases and equip a greater number of intensive care units and isolation rooms. Support will also help finance the national communication strategy and dissemination of prevention and protection messages in the short and medium term.
Middle East and North Africa: A $26.9 million IDA grant will be implemented in partnership with the WHO to help Yemen limit the spread and mitigate risks associated with COVID-19. The World Bank is also supporting implementation of Djibouti’s Preparedness Plan with $5 million in IDA credit. Support will focus on immediate needs and response to the pandemic, while helping strengthen health systems across the country.
South Asia: $100 million will support Afghanistan to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19 through enhanced detection, surveillance, and laboratory systems, as well as strengthen essential health care delivery and intensive care. In India, $1 billion emergency financing will support better screening, contact tracing, and laboratory diagnostics; procure personal protective equipment; and set up new isolation wards. $200 million will support Pakistan’s preparedness and emergency response in the health sector and include social protection and education measures to help the poor and vulnerable cope with the immediate impacts of the pandemic.