World Bank Boost for Fiji’s Health Sector

The World Bank has approved funding of US$7.4 million (approx. FJ$16 million) to further support the Government of Fiji to strengthen its health systems in the wake of the COVID-19 emergency.

With Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama having declared Fiji COVID-19 contained, the focus is now turning to efforts to provide longer-term health security for Fijians, and to the economic recovery phase.

This World Bank support will assist the Government of Fiji to strengthen its response to future infectious disease outbreaks like the current COVID-19 pandemic. This support includes improved connectivity for 35 health facilities throughout Fiji, as well as support for other health sector ICT innovations.

The project will also provide additional medical supplies including Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), intensive care unit beds and ventilators, as well as the installation of a medical incinerator that will serve three divisional hospitals in Fiji, including the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, the country’s largest hospital.

At its peak, Fiji had reported 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. The Government of Fiji was able to contain the initial spread of the COVID-19 virus through its quick, proactive and intensive response measures that were implemented nationwide.

“With the pandemic still raging around the globe, Fiji can’t rest on our success against COVID-19. This critical support from the World Bank will allow us to build on our progress, further strengthening our defences –– particularly our health systems and initiatives –– in the months ahead,” said Fiji’s Minister for Economy, Civil Service & Communications, the Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. “As we adapt to the ‘new normal’ of a post-COVID world, this support will allow us, Fiji, to arm our frontline health workers in a way that not only helps us get through this crisis, but also prepares us for future epidemics and pandemics. This aid will directly help save Fijian lives, and we thank the World Bank for stepping up.”

The World Bank’s US$7.4m commitment to Fiji is being delivered through a US$6.4m dedicated emergency health project through the International Development Association (IDA). This financing is provided on concessional terms under the Small Islands Economies Exception with 0% interest, a 10-year grace period and 40 years maturity[1]. The additional US$1 million grant will be drawn from the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) Insurance fund.

“Fiji’s swift, comprehensive response to the threat posed by COVID19 has been an achievement that has been deservedly recognized globally,” said Michel Kerf, Country Director for the World Bank in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “We are proud to be standing with Fiji to help it maintain its strong COVID-19 response, while also looking more broadly and longer-term to building capacity in Fiji’s health system to reduce the risk of future outbreaks, and helping to put in place systems that will benefit Fijians beyond the fight against COVID-19.”

This project is being coordinated alongside the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), together with other UN agencies and key partners. In the Pacific, COVID-19 response projects have already been approved for Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu with additional long-term response and recovery projects to be announced.

The World Bank works in partnership with 12 countries across the Pacific, supporting 85 projects totaling US$1.8 billion in commitments in sectors including agriculture, aviation and transport, climate resilience and adaptation, economic policy, education and employment, energy, fisheries, health, macroeconomic management, rural development, telecommunications and tourism.