Signs 75-million-dollar pact with govt


The Nepal government and the World Bank today signed an agreement for additional financing of $75 million to support access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for Nepal's prioritised populations.

The agreement was signed by the Finance Secretary Sishir Kumar Dhungana on behalf of the Nepal government and the World Bank Country Director for Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka, Faris Hadad-Zervos.

"The additional financing is an important and timely support to the government's plan to vaccinate at least 72 per cent of the Nepali population,"

Finance Secretary Dhungana was quoted as saying in a media release. "It supports the government's health response to the pandemic, by supporting procurement of COVID-19 vaccines as well as strengthening health systems for their effective deployment as per the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan."

The additional financing builds on the $29 million for the original COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project that was signed in April 2020. The project will be implemented under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Population by the Department of Health Services and associated institutional bodies.

About 90 per cent of the additional financing will support the purchase, supply, and distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

The rest of the financing will support existing public health measures to test, trace, and treat the COVID-19 patients through a strengthened health system; community engagement and risk communication to improve the demand and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines; and project implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and learning.

"Equitable and fast access to effective and safe COVID vaccines is vital to save lives and support a resilient recovery from the pandemic," stated Hadad-Zervos. "The World Bank is committed to supporting the government's pandemic response to protect lives, strengthen systems for public health preparedness, and stimulate economic recovery in Nepal."

The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad and fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, conduct tests, provide treatment, and strengthen vaccination systems.

The financing builds on the broader World Bank Group COVID-19 response, which is helping more than 100 countries to strengthen health systems, support the poorest households, and create supportive conditions to maintain livelihoods and jobs for those hit the hardest.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 3, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.