• Melo Acuna

US$100 m World Bank loan approved

World Bank approves US$100 M loan to support the Philippines’ COVID-19 emergency response

MANILA – The World Bank approved a US$100 million loan for the Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to help meet immediate healthcare requirements as the pandemic rages in the country as well as to better prepare public health requirements.

The project will be implemented by the Department of Health (DOH) and is expected to strengthen essential healthcare delivery system for critical medical services with the rising demand expected in the next few months.

“Boosting the country’s capacity to respond to COVID-19 will save lives,” said Achim Fock, World Bank Acting Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. He explained the Philippine government has taken quick and decisive action in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the World Bank is supportive of its efforts. He added no other investment offers greater return.

In a statement released before midday today, the World Bank said the project will focus on providing personal protective equipment (PPEs) including googles, gloves, gowns and drugs such as antivirals, antibiotics and essential medicines, and medical supplies such as intensive care unit equipment and devices such as mechanical ventilators, cardiac monitors, portable x-ray machines; laboratory equipment and test kits. The project will provide the necessary logistics and supply chains to assist the government in bringing them to frontline health facilities soonest.

The said project will also support the Department of Health in preparing guidance on standard design for hospital isolation and treatment centers to manage Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) patients, which will be used in health facilities across the country to assure everyone of strict standards and quality for COVID-19 healthcare services.

Part of the loan will fund the expansion of the country’s laboratory capability at the national and sub-national levels for prevention of and preparedness against emerging infections diseases. It will also support the retrofitting of the national reference laboratory, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and six other sub-national and public health laboratories in Baguio, Cebu, Davao and Manila and finance the construction and expansion of laboratory capacity in priority regions that do not have such facilities.

The Philippines is one of the countries in the East Asia and the Pacific region hit hard by COVID-19. The COVID-19 Emergency Response Project is part of the World Bank Group’s fast-track package to strengthen response to COVID-19 in developing countries as well as shorten the time to recovery.

Earlier, on April 9, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved US$500 million in financing to help the Philippine government’s capacity to address disaster risks, respond to and recover from natural disasters and address urgent needs from the COVID-19 crunch. (Melo M. Acuña)

Achim Fock, World Bank Acting Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. (WB Photo)

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