MANILA, Philippines — The $100-million (over P5-billion) loan scheduled to be approved by the World Bank next week will finance the purchase of medical equipment and supplies which the Washington-based multilateral lender said would reduce COVID-19 deaths in the Philippines by a tenth and save over 16,700 Filipinos.
World Bank documents showed that the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to be implemented by the Department of Health (DOH) will be tackled by the lender’s board on April 20, Monday next week.
The World Bank said that while the Philippines had “moved aggressively to mitigate the COVID-19 epidemic at an early stage when confirmed cases were still at a very low level,” a World Health Organization (WHO) situation report last March 30 showed that “hospitals are already facing shortages of personal protection equipment” or PPEs.
“While the Philippines has comprehensive health strategies and policies developed at the national level, these are not effectively mirrored in local-level program implementation. Coverage of basic health programs lags well behind what would be expected of a country of the Philippines’ level of economic development, with immunization coverage at its lowest point in 10 years, poor (but improving) access to maternal health outcomes, and high levels of malnutrition for a middle-income country. The current health system is ill-equipped to manage rising burden of chronic, non-communicable diseases,” the World Bank said.
The World Bank added that government spending on health as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) was “low by global standard,” while the country’s mixed public-private healthcare system “operates within a fragmented environment.”
As such, the upcoming World Bank loan will support the Philippine government “in strengthening emergency COVID-19 health care response as well as strengthening emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) prevention, preparedness, and response capacity at national and sub-national level.”
Specifically, the loan will support “provision of medical and laboratory equipment and reagents, medical supplies, including PPEs, and medicines” on top of providing “enhancing isolation facilities as well as strengthening laboratory capacity.”
“All of the project’s interventions are expected to save lives by improving the quality of care of COVID-19 patients and reducing the number of infections. A rough estimate is that taken as a whole the measures under the project will reduce overall deaths by 10 percent. Taking the lower end of the range of deaths projected by Imperial College London, this implies that the project would save 16,702 lives, which would principally otherwise have been lost in 2020,” the World Bank said.
Of the $100-million funding, the bulk or $82.5 million will be spent to strengthen emergency COVID-19 health care response, including $43.2 million to provide medical and laboratory equipment and reagents; $16.3 million to provide medical supplies such as PPEs, medicines and ambulances; and $23 million to enhance isolation and quarantine facilities.
The remaining amounts will be spent, as follows: $16.5 million to strengthen laboratory capacity at national and sub-national level to support EIDs prevention, preparedness, and response; and $1 million for project implementation management, monitoring and evaluation.
Edited by JPV
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