An additional US$15 million has been made available to help the Lao PDR stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, following an agreement between the World Bank and the government.
This additional funding is split between an International Development Association (IDA) credit of US$10 million and a US$5 million grant from the Health Emergency Response and Preparedness Multi-Donor Trust Fund.
Following the approval of an initial US$18 million COVID-19 response project in April 2020, the Lao government requested additional resources this year to expand the deployment of vaccines. The new funds bring the total value of the project to US$33 million and will be used to further finance the rollout of vaccines already pledged by the worldwide COVAX initiative and other donors. The funds will also be used to help procure enough additional vaccines to allow the Lao PDR to vaccinate 50 per cent of its population.
According to Minister of Health Bounfeng Phommalaysith, the new agreement “will anchor the government’s National Deployment and Vaccination Plan, which seeks to accelerate the vaccination of the population, following the success of the first phases of the vaccination drive. In addition, it will build on the successes of the initial response project, which has strengthened emergency response systems and provided vital medical equipment, supplies, and isolation and treatment facilities under the guidance of the COVID-19 National Taskforce.”
Around US$9 million of the total project financing will be allocated to vaccine procurement. Nearly US$5.5 million, including the trust fund allocation, will help ensure the safe, effective, and equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to target groups, as defined in the National Plan. Deployment activities will include training of health staff on vaccine delivery and security, delivery through fixed mobile and sites in remote and rural areas, and management and monitoring of the roll out.
“This additional financing comes at a crucial time, when the Lao PDR is working hard to contain a new wave of COVID-19 infections,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank Country Director for Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar. “A swift and broad vaccination campaign is vital to the country’s economic recovery from the slowdown caused by the pandemic, and this initiative builds on the strong response we have already seen from the Lao authorities.”
The COVID-19 response project is part of a wider health response to the pandemic, supported by various development partners under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, and complements the World Bank’s existing health initiatives, the Health Governance and Nutrition Development Project and the Health and Nutrition Services Access Project.
Source: Lao News Agency