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The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved $500 million in financing from the International Development Association (IDA) to help Bangladesh vaccinate 54 million people against Covid-19.
The additional financing to Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness Project will help Bangladesh procure safe and effective vaccines, expand vaccine storage facilities, and distribute vaccines to about 31 percent of its population, in support of the government's prioritised plan to cover 40 percent of the population in the first phase of vaccination.
"Bangladesh has taken quick action to combat Covid-19 by rolling out a national vaccination program. To achieve the objectives of the program, fast and equitable access to vaccines will be important," said Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan.
"This financing will help Bangladesh strengthen its national systems to ensure the prompt delivery of vaccines to one-third of its population."
The project will continue to provide support to strengthen the national health systems to detect, prevent, and treat Covid-19 cases, as well as prepare for future health emergencies. Further, it will provide training to personnel for a successful vaccination program and strengthen the capacity of the Directorate General of Drug Administration for testing vaccines in the country.
The financing will cover the cost of deployment of the vaccines acquired through the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) for about 20 percent of the population. For the remaining 11 percent of the population, the financing will cover direct purchases of vaccines from manufacturers or through COVAX, and the costs related to administering the vaccination. In parallel, the government is purchasing vaccines using its own resources that will cover another 9 percent of the population.
"Building on Bangladesh's long and successful history of managing child immunization programs, the financing will play a critical role in getting those who need it most immunized against COVID-19," said Iffat Mahmud, World Bank Senior Operations Officer and Task Team Leader for the Project. "The project will continue to support setting-up of testing laboratories and expand provision of intensive care at the district level."
With this additional financing, the World Bank's support to the project now stands at $600 million. In addition, the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) is providing $100 million more for this project. The IDA credit has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period. Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing IDA program totaling over $13.5 billion. The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh and has committed about $35 billion in grants, interest-free, and concessional credits to the country since its Independence.
This additional financing for Bangladesh is one of three projects in a first phase of support for the Covid-19 vaccination effort across the South Asia region. Today, the Bank's Board also approved additional financing from IDA of $75 million for Nepal and $60 million for Afghanistan, complemented by $50 million from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and $3 million from the Energy Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). In addition to financing, the Bank is also providing technical assistance and knowledge-sharing workshops for countries in South Asia on different aspects of designing and deploying fair and equitable vaccine strategies.