The World Bank (WB) has given the green light to a $100 million loan for the Philippine Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 Emergency Response Project which seeks to acquire more medical supplies and labs to save at least 16,700 Filipinos from the killer disease.

In a statement, WB said the money should be used on personal protective equipment (PPE), medicines, medical supplies and lab equipment.

The funds would also “support the necessary logistics and supply chains to help ensure that the equipment will reach frontline health facilities without delays,” said WB.

Another use of the funds, according to WB, is to support the DOH in “preparing guidance” for a standard design of hospital isolation and treatment facilities for COVID-19 patients.

Yet another use for the funds is expansion of lab testing capacity in the national and lower levels for “prevention of and preparedness against emerging infectious diseases.”

The funds would “support retrofitting” of the ageing Philippine testing facility, Research Institue for Tropical Medicine, and six other labs in Baguio, Cebu, Davao and Manila.

Labs would be built in areas “that currently do not have these facilities,” said WB.

“Boosting the country’s capacity to respond to COVID-19 will save lives,” the lender said.

It praised the Philippine government’s “quick and decisive action” against coronavirus.

“Right now, no other investment offers greater return,” said Achim Fock, WB acting country director who has jurisdiction over the Philippines.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had cited WB estimates that 100,000 lives had been saved by lockdowns.

Earlier WB loan documents showed its COVID-19 Emergency Response Project was projecting reduction of deaths in the Philippines by at least 10 percent, or up to 16,702 Filipinos.

The WB has a lengthy breakdown of how the $100 million in loan would be spent.

Earlier this month, WB also approved a $500 million loan for the Philippines to partly “support urgent needs created by the COVID-19 crisis.”

The $500 million loan was programmed for accelerated release on April 30 and had been initially intended for upgrade of the Philippines disaster response and recovery capacity.

Edited by TSB


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