World Bank to Support Nicaragua’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON – The World Bank (WB) Board of Directors approved today a US$ 116 million loan in additional financing to further strengthen Nicaragua’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. This project will enable the population, particularly the most vulnerable, to benefit from essential medicines, vaccines, and medical and laboratory supplies and equipment during the ongoing national response to the pandemic. It will also help prepare the country for events of this nature in the future.

The additional funds expand the US$20 million Nicaragua COVID-19 Emergency Response Project, approved by the WB on December 8, 2020, to benefit Nicaragua’s 6.3 million inhabitants by strengthening the response to the pandemic and mitigating its impact on the most vulnerable.

“For over three decades Nicaragua has been working with the World Bank to advance the provision of health care services and its sustainability,” said Finance Minister Iván Acosta. “This concessional credit demonstrates once more our long-standing partnership with the WB for the greater good of our people.”

This additional funding will enhance the scope of the main project, which has delivered items to Nicaragua’s Ministry of Health, including medicines, disposable medical supplies, personal protective equipment, hospital waste management materials and hospital clothing. The project complements the support with training for health personnel in Nicaragua’s nineteen Local Integrated Health Care Systems (SILAIS, Spanish acronym).

Funded by the International Development Association (IDA), the WB fund for the poorest countries, the project will be implemented through the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The World Bank’s fiduciary policies and guidelines will govern the use and flow of Bank funds to ensure they reach their intended purpose of benefiting the Nicaraguan people.

“We stand by the people in need in this global health emergency and are proud to have been chosen as the implementing agency for this operation, where strict supervision and monitoring of each activity is maintained with the contribution of all partners,” said Nazario Esposito, Representative and Director of UNOPS in Nicaragua.

The operation complies with the Bank’s current environmental and social policies, known as Safeguard Policies, which identify, avoid, and minimize harm to people and the environment. The operation includes three subcomponents:

· COVID-19 response and vaccine deployment. This subcomponent will scale up the activities of the Parent Project for the purchase of critical goods to support readiness for public provision of health services for mild and severe cases of COVID-19, and protection of health care workers against COVID-19 through the acquisition of essential medical and laboratory supplies and equipment for selected hospitals and health facilities. New activities are also included: support to vaccine deployment capacity; support to the functionality and expansion of the cold chain; and management of hospital waste and treatment of residual waters.

· Acquisition of vaccines and related supplies. Vaccines will be procured through the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) using alternatives that will benefit the country in terms of quality and cost.

· Strengthening the health system response to the pandemic. This subcomponent will strengthen the provision of health care services for Non-Communicable and Communicable Diseases through the purchase of medications and through the purchase and maintenance of medical equipment. These activities will have positive impacts beyond the COVID-19 emergency, increasing the overall resilience of Nicaragua’s health system and decreasing the population’s vulnerability to health threats arising from climate change, as well as significantly reducing emissions caused by the health system.

“Nicaragua has made progress in improving the health status of its population, but COVID-19 plus the impact of major hurricanes in 2020 is putting the health system under strain. Our goal is to support the provision of essential health care for all Nicaraguans and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on human welfare and the economic recovery,” said Kinnon Scott, WB Resident Representative in Nicaragua.

The US$116 million loan for the “Nicaragua Additional Financing COVID-19 Response Project”, which is part of the Bank’s global response to COVID-19, has an implementation period until June 2025. The loan matures in 30 years, including a 5-year grace period.

World Bank Group Response to COVID-19

From April 2020 to March 2022, the World Bank Group committed over $200 billion to public and private sector clients to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history. The financing is helping developing countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The Bank is also supporting over 70 low- and middle-income countries, more than half of which are in Africa, with the purchase and deployment of COVID-19 vaccines.