World Bank Group Launches First Operations for COVID-19 Emergency Health Support

Emergency support - COVID-19 -

April 21, 2020

Broader economic program would provide up to $160 billion over next 15 months

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2020 — The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a first set of emergency support operations for developing countries around the world, using a dedicated, fast-track facility for COVID-19 (coronavirus) response. The first group of projects, amounting to $1.9 billion, will assist 25 countries, and new operations are moving forward in over 40 countries using the fast-track process. In addition, the World Bank is working worldwide to redeploy resources in existing World Bank financed projects worth up to $1.7 billion, including through restructuring, use of emergency support of existing projects (CERCs) and triggering of CAT DDOs and spanning every region.

The World Bank Group is prepared to deploy up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to support COVID-19 measures that will help countries respond to immediate health consequences of the pandemic and bolster economic recovery. The broader economic program will aim to shorten the recovery time, create growth conditions, support small and medium enterprises, and help protect the poor and vulnerable. These operations will have an intense poverty focus, emphasising policy-based financing and protecting the poorest households and the environment. “The World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and we already have health response operations moving forward in over 65 countries,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass. “We are working to strengthen developing nations’ ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and shorten the time to economic and social recovery. The poorest and most vulnerable countries will likely be hit the hardest, and our teams worldwide remain focused on country-level and regional solutions to address the ongoing crisis.”

Responding to widespread supply chain disruptions, the World Bank is also helping countries access critically needed medical supplies by contacting suppliers on governments’ behalf. The World Bank also encourages others to financially support developing countries for the COVID-19 health response. “This fast response package will save lives and help detect, prevent and respond to COVID-19 in the countries we serve,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations. “Our country operations will be coordinated globally to ensure best practice is quickly shared, including approaches to strengthen national health systems and prepare for potential follow-on waves of this devastating virus.”

Among the initial projects approved:

  • Africa: $82 million will help Ethiopia address critical needs for COVID-19 preparedness and response, including providing vital medical equipment, health system capacity-building, and support to establish treatment centres. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, $47 million will provide emergency support to put in place containment strategies, train medical staff and provide equipment to ensure rapid case detection and contact tracing.
  • East Asia and the Pacific: In Mongolia, $26.9 million will help provide training for emergency care doctors, nurses, and paramedics; purchase medical and laboratory equipment and supplies; rehabilitate health care facilities; and strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to health crises. In Cambodia, $20 million will help establish laboratories and isolation and treatment centers in 25 provincial referral hospitals and equip them with essential medical and testing supplies.
  • Europe and Central Asia: In Tajikistan, $11.3 million will help expand intensive care capacity through equipment, supplies, and training, as well as supporting coordination with the public. The most vulnerable households will also be protected through temporary social assistance. In the Kyrgyz Republic, $12.15 million will help boost the capacity of rapid-response teams, hospitals and laboratories by providing medical and laboratory supplies, ICU equipment, and preparedness funds for hospitals.
  • Latin America and the CaribbeanHaiti, the region’s poorest country, will benefit from a $20 million IDA grant with immediate support to minimize COVID-19 transmission through more testing for early detection and rapid response teams to help contain outbreaks. The financing will also mobilize additional health staff and provide equipment to improve patient care. In Ecuador, $20 million will help finance medical supplies for COVID-19 cases and equip a greater number of intensive care units and isolation rooms. Support will also help finance the national communication strategy and dissemination of prevention and protection messages in the short and medium term.
  • Middle East and North Africa: A $26.9 million IDA grant will be implemented in partnership with the WHO to help Yemen limit the spread and mitigate risks associated with COVID-19. The World Bank is also supporting implementation of Djibouti’s Preparedness Plan with $5 million in IDA credit. Support will focus on immediate needs and response to the pandemic, while helping strengthen health systems across the country.
  • South Asia: $100 million will support Afghanistan to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19 through enhanced detection, surveillance, and laboratory systems, as well as strengthen essential health care delivery and intensive care. In India, $1 billion emergency financing will support better screening, contact tracing, and laboratory diagnostics; procure personal protective equipment; and set up new isolation wards. $200 million will support Pakistan’s preparedness and emergency response in the health sector and include social protection and education measures to help the poor and vulnerable cope with the immediate impacts of the pandemic.

Initial Set of COVID-19 Emergency Response Projects
Funded under the Fast-Track Facility*

Country $USD (Mil) Country $USD (Mil)
Afghanistan 100.4 Maldives 7.3
Argentina 35.0 Mauritania 5.2
Cabo Verde 5.0 Mongolia 26.9
Cambodia 20.0 Pakistan 200.0
Dem. Rep. of Congo 47.2 Paraguay 20.0
Djibouti 5.0 São Tomé e Principe 2.5
Ecuador 20.0 Senegal  20.0
Ethiopia 82.6 Sierra Leone 7.5
Ghana 35.0 Sri Lanka 128.6
Haiti 20.0 Tajikistan 11.3
India 1,000.0 The Gambia 10.0
Kenya 50.0 Yemen 26.9
Kyrgyz Republic 12.5

*Total Project shows the full amount of the operation, FTF financing as well as IDA18, IBRD, Trust Funds or front-loaded IDA19.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is providing $8 billion in financing to help private companies affected by the pandemic and preserve jobs. IFC is already working to rapidly deploy a pipeline of approximately 300 companies across emerging markets to shore up private sector activity.

IFC engagements include extending trade finance and working capital lines to partner financial institutions, as well as supporting existing clients in the infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and services industries that are vulnerable to the pandemic. IFC has to date committed 470 transactions in the amount of $545 million in trade finance lines through its Global Trade Finance Program, 54% of which was in low-income and fragile countries and 29% in Sub-Saharan Africa and MENA.

The broader financial support includes $6 billion in guarantees from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which provides political risk insurance and credit enhancement to private sector investors and lenders.