Philippines gets US$100mil World Bank loan for Covid-19 emergency response


Residents receive cooked food from the military at a slum area during an enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Manila, Philippines on Monday, April 20, 2020. - AP

MANILA (Xinhua): The World Bank said it has approved a US$100mil loan for the Philippine Covid-19 emergency response project to help meet urgent healthcare needs.

In a statement released on Thursday (April 23), the World Bank said the project, which will be implemented by the Department of Health (DOH), will help strengthen the essential healthcare delivery system for critical medical services in the face of increased demand in the coming 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.

"The government has taken quick and decisive action in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and the World Bank is proud to support its efforts. Right now, no other investment offers greater return," Fock added.

The World Bank said the project will focus on providing personal protective equipment (PPE), drugs, medical supplies such as intensive care unit equipment, devices such as mechanical ventilators, laboratory equipment, and test kits. In addition, the project will support the necessary logistics and supply chains to help ensure that the equipment will reach frontline health facilities without delays.

The World Bank further said the project will also support the DOH in preparing guidance on standard design for hospital isolation and treatment centres to manage Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) patients, which will be used in health facilities across the country to ensure standards and quality of Covid-19 healthcare services.

This project will also fund the expansion of the country's laboratory capacity at national and sub-national levels for prevention of and preparedness against emerging infectious diseases, the bank added.

According to the World Bank, the project will support retrofitting of the national reference laboratory, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), as well as six 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 currently do not have these facilities.

The Philippines is one of the countries in the Asia-Pacific hit hard by Covid-19.

The Covid-19 emergency response project is part of the World Bank Group's fast-track package to strengthen the Covid-19 response in developing countries and shorten the time to recovery.

On April 9,2020, the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved US$500mil in financing to help strengthen the Philippine government's capacity to address disaster risks, respond to and recover from natural disasters as well as address urgent needs created by the Covid-19 crisis. - Xinhua

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