Philippines: World Bank Approves US$100M to Support COVID-19 Emergency Response

New Delhi: The World Bank approved a US$100 million loan for the Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to help meet urgent healthcare needs in the wake of the pandemic and bolster the country’s public health preparedness.

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.”

The project will focus on providing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves, gowns; 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. 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 project will also support the DOH 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 ensure standards and quality of COVID-19 healthcare services.

This project will also fund the expansion of the country’s laboratory capacity at the national and sub-national levels for prevention of and preparedness against emerging infectious diseases. It 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 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 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$500 million 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.

The World Bank Group’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response, increase disease surveillance, improve public health interventions, and help the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. It is deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over the next 15 months to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.