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DOF, WB ink $100-M loan for COVID-19 fight

By CHINO S. LEYCO

The Duterte administration signed a loan agreement with the World Bank (WB) that aims to strengthen the country’s capacity to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said that he sealed a $100-million loan for the Philippines’ COVID-19 Emergency Response Project (ERP) last April 28 with World Bank Acting Country Director Achim Fock.

The $100-million accord follows an earlier agreement signed between Dominguez and Fock for the US$500-million Third Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Loan (DRM DPL3) that aims to augment the government’s urgent financing requirements in dealing with the pandemic.

“The World Bank has again acted swiftly to help developing economies like the Philippines meet the ever-increasing demand for medical care and health facilities resulting from the coronavirus-induced global health crisis,” Dominguez said.

“We thank the World Bank once again for supporting our efforts to contain the spread of the virus and expand our capacity to prevent and prepare for emerging infectious diseases in the future,” he added.

In approving the COVID-19 ERP loan, Fock said “boosting the [Philippines’] capacity to respond to COVID-19 will save lives.”

“The government has taken quick and decisive action in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the World Bank is proud to support its efforts. Right now, no other investment offers greater return,” Fock said.

The COVID-19 ERP consists of the following components: (1) strengthening the country’s emergency COVID-19 health care response efforts; (2) strengthening laboratory capacity at the national and sub-national levels to support the prevention of, preparedness against, and response to, emerging infectious diseases; (3) implementation management and monitoring and evaluation; and (4) contingent emergency response.

To be implemented by the Department of Health (DOH), the COVID-19 ERP will support the Philippine government’s efforts in the procurement of medical and laboratory equipment and reagents; medical supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPEs), medicines and ambulances; and isolation and quarantine facilities.

The World Bank may also provide proactive assistance in accessing existing supply chains through its Bank-Facilitated Procurement (BFP) to assist the DOH in implementing the project, “which will be beneficial considering the current disruptions in the usual supply chains for medical consumables and equipment for COVID-19 response,” the DOF said.

An earlier statement issued by the World Bank said the COVID-19 ERP loan also aims to expand the Philippines’ laboratory capacity by, among others, retrofitting the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) along with six sub-national and public health laboratories.

This project loan will also support the efforts of the DOH in coming up with design standards for hospital isolation and treatment centers in managing patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI), which will be used in health facilities across the country to ensure the consistency of quality and standards in delivering COVID-19 healthcare services.

The loan carries a maturity period of 29 years, inclusive of a 10-and-a-half-year grace period.

It will be fully financed by the World Bank with no counterpart funding needed from the Philippine government.

The DOF said it expects the effectiveness of the ERP loan and the project implementation to commence in early May.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://business.mb.com.ph/2020/04/29/dof-wb-ink-100-m-loan-for-covid-19-fight/)

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