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WB announces up to 12 billion USD immediate support for COVID-19-stricken countries

20:42 | 04/03/2020

The World Bank Group announced Tuesday that it is making available an initial fast track package worths 12 billion USD to assist member countries better respond to, and if possible, lessen the tragic health and economic impacts posed by the rapid-spreading of the novel coronavirus. 

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12 billion USD will be sent immediately by World Bank Group to COVID-19-stricken countries. (Photo: State online)

With this immediate support, developing countries can strengthen health systems, including better access to health services to safeguard people from the epidemic, strengthen disease surveillance, bolster public health interventions, and work with the private sector to reduce the impact on economies.

The financial package, with financing drawn from across IDA, IBRD and IFC, will be globally coordinated to support country-based responses.

"We are working to provide a fast, flexible response based on developing country needs in dealing with the spread of COVID-19," World Bank Group President David Malpass said in a statement. "This includes emergency financing, policy advice, and technical assistance, building on the World Bank Group's existing instruments and expertise to help countries respond to the crisis," he said.

The financial package will provide grants and low-interest loans from IDA for low-income countries and loans from IBRD for middle-income countries, using all of the Bank’s operational instruments with processing accelerated on a fast track basis. International Finance Corporation, the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, will provide its clients with the necessary support to continue operating and to sustain jobs.

The Bank support will cover a range of interventions to strengthen health services and primary health care, bolster disease monitoring and reporting, train front line health workers, encourage community engagement to maintain public trust, and improve access to treatment for the poorest patients. It will also provide policy and technical advice to ensure countries can access global expertise.

Besides working with commercial bank clients to expand trade finance and working capital lines, IFC will directly support its corporate clients — with a focus on strategic sectors including medical equipment and pharmaceuticals — to sustain supply chains and limit downside risks. These solutions will leverage the lessons learned from similar events in the past with a goal to minimize the negative economic and social impacts of COVID-19 globally.

As each country faces different levels of risk and vulnerability to COVID-19, requiring different levels of support, The World Bank Group noted that its support will prioritize the poorest countries and those at high risk with low capacity.

"As the spread of COVID-19 and its impact continues to evolve, the World Bank Group will adapt its approach and resources as needed," said the statement, adding that the World Bank Group is actively engaged with international institutions and country authorities to help coordinate the global response.

The funding package came one day after the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank said in a joint statement that they stand ready to help member countries address the human tragedy and economic challenge posed by COVID-19.

The World Bank Group is actively engaged with international institutions and country authorities to help coordinate the global response./.

The World Bank/ Xinhua