World Bank approves additional $80 million to Sri Lanka for fair and effective deployment of COVID-19 vaccines

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – The World Bank Tuesday approved $80.5 million additional financing to help Sri Lanka access and distribute fairly COVID-19 vaccines and to strengthen the country’s vaccination system and pandemic response.

This additional finance builds on the $217.56 million Sri Lanka COVID-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness Project, which was approved in April 2020, the World Bank said in a statement.

This new financing will help purchase vaccines to cover approximately 4 million people (18 percent of Sri Lanka’s population). In addition, it will cover the costs of deploying safe and effective vaccines to 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s population to meet the target of vaccinating at least 60 percent of its population. This additional financing will help implement the National Vaccine Deployment Plan of the Ministry of Health (MOH).

“Sri Lanka has demonstrated resilience in the implementation of its test, trace and treat pandemic management strategy, which has relied on its well-established public healthcare system,” said Faris. H. Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “To recover from the pandemic-induced impacts, Sri Lanka needs sustainable financing mechanisms to further strengthen and equip its healthcare system to protect its population through improved vaccination programs and curative and preventive healthcare.”

The World Bank responded to the COVID-19 outbreak in Sri Lanka by repurposing a large portion of its current portfolio to assist the government in reducing the pandemic’s effects. Supplying critical personal protective equipment (PPE), medical commodities and PCR tests, providing temporary cash assistance to vulnerable groups, strengthening isolation and quarantine facilities and laboratory capacity, improving mobility support for the community health officials to improve surveillance and contact tracing measures, risk communication measures and mental health services associated with the impact of COVID-19 are some initiatives supported by the World Bank.

In addition to this financing for Sri Lanka, last month, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a total of $688 million for Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal to support their COVID-19 vaccination efforts. In addition to financing, the Bank is providing technical assistance and knowledge-sharing workshops for countries in South Asia on different aspects of designing and deploying fair and equitable vaccine strategies.

The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems. The financing builds on the broader World Bank Group COVID-19 response, which is helping more than 100 countries strengthen health systems, support the poorest households, and create supportive conditions to maintain livelihoods and jobs for those hit hardest.

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