Kathmandu: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved $75 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to support access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and equitable vaccine distribution by strengthening Nepal’s health and vaccination system.
The financing is expected to facilitate vaccination of at least one-third of the population through an equitable distribution plan. “The pandemic presents immense challenges and an uncertain environment, particularly in the purchase, supply and distribution of vaccines,” said Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
“It is a testament to our strong partnership with Nepal that the Bank has been able to move quickly to support the government’s ambitious plans to vaccinate at least 72 percent of the population.”
The additional financing builds on the $29 million for the original COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project that was approved in April 2020, the existing Bank-supported health programs, and confirmed support of other development partners in the context of the government’s overall COVID‐19 response.
Most of the new financing (90 percent) will go to the purchase of COVID‐19 vaccines and deployment for prioritized populations beyond the 20 percent that will be vaccinated through COVAX. The rest of the financing will help strengthen the health system to support the COVID‐19 vaccination effort and procure other COVID‐19-related supplies such as diagnostic tests, laboratory equipment and therapeutics.
The additional financing also supports community engagement and risk communication, and strengthening existing digital technology‐based pandemic data, surveillance and monitoring systems.
“This support is critical for Nepal to safeguard the physical health of its people and economic health of the nation,” said Gail Richardson, World Bank Practice Manager for South Asia for the Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice. “Providing fast and fair access to the approved COVID-19 vaccines for the most vulnerable people will expedite population-level immunity, which is central to resilient recovery from the devastating effects of COVID-19.”
This additional financing for Nepal 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 $500 million for Bangladesh 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.