WB Oks $200m in pandemic support

By Asghar Ali Mubarak

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank launched first operations for Covid-19 health support and approved $200 million funding for Pakistan to cope with the challenges of Coronavirus.
“$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,” said WB press statement received here. The bank also approved $100 million support for 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.
While, $1 billion have been approved for Indian for emergency financing to support better screening, contact tracing, and laboratory diagnostics; procure personal protective equipment; and set up new isolation wards.
According to the statement, the WB Board of Executive Directors had 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, will assist 25 countries, and new operations are moving forward in over 40 countries using the fast-track process, according to WB press statement received here.
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 Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (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. “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”Malpass added.
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 WB 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,”said Trotsenburg.
The bank approved $82 for Ethiopia, $47 million for Democratic Republic of Congo, $26.9 million for Mongolia, $20 million for Cambodia, $11.3 million for Tajikistan, $12.15 million for Kyrgyz Republic, $20 million for Haiti, $20 million for Ecuador, $26.9 million for Yemen, $5 million for Djibouti’s, South $100 million for Afghanistan , $1 billion for India and $200 for Pakistan.