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World Bank redeploys $153mln for national vaccine drive

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has redeployed $153 million of loan to support the ongoing national vaccine drive in Pakistan after the restructuring of the pandemic response effectiveness project, originally approved in April last year.

The funds, redeployed at the request of the federal government, will help finance the purchase and deployment of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines that meet the eligibility criteria of the World Bank, the World Bank said in a statement last week. It said the project will strengthen the health system’s capacity to implement the vaccination campaign for its prioritized and eligible populations. With a total project cost of $200 million, the pandemic response effectiveness project is helping in strengthening national systems for public health preparedness. This project has four components.

The first component aims to slow down and limit as much as possible the spread of coronavirus in the country.

The second component, mitigation of disruptive impacts, aims to address significant negative externalities expected in the event of a widespread coronavirus outbreak using different safety net mechanisms based on the extent of disruptions. The third component, implementation management and monitoring and evaluation, support project implementation, coordination, and management, including support for financial management, procurement, environmental and social, monitoring and evaluation of prevention and preparedness, capacity building for clinical and public health research, joint-learning across and within the country, a gender and vulnerability analysis of the outbreak, and third-party monitoring of progress and after-action reviews. The fourth contingent emergency response component allows flexibility to respond to the dynamics of the pandemic as it evolves during the life of the project.

“The third wave of COVID-19 emerged in Pakistan in March 2021 and is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people,” said Najy Benhassine, World Bank Country Director for Pakistan. “The World Bank remains a committed partner to support Pakistan in addressing this public health crisis, including through vaccination, and providing support to tackle the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.”

The World Bank’s program in Pakistan is governed by the country partnership strategy for FY2015-2020 with four priority areas of engagement: energy, private sector development, inclusion, and service delivery. The current portfolio has 57 projects and a total commitment of $13 billion. In addition to this financing for vaccines in Pakistan, the World Bank has provided a total of $768.5 million to support the vaccination purchase and rollout efforts in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

In addition to financing, the bank is providing technical assistance and knowledge-sharing workshops for countries in South Asia on different aspects of designing and deploying fair and equitable vaccine strategies.