COVID-19: World Bank approves USD 7.3 mln support to the Maldives

The World Bank has approved to grant USD 7.3 million to the Maldives to support the archipelago in combating against COVID-19.

A statement released on Thursday said the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved USD 7.3 million for the Maldives “COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project". The project aims to assist the country in preventing, detecting, and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthening its public health preparedness, said the World Bank.

In addition, a $10 million contingency financing, under Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Financing with a Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (CAT DDO), signed in 2019, has also been made available to support Maldives.

According to the statement, the new fast track package of USD 7.3 million will aid the country to provide prime care to patients, procure personal protective equipment and medical supplies, support hospitals to maintain essential services, strengthen intensive care and cope with a potential surge in demand, strengthen the capacity of laboratories in the capital Male’ and the atolls to diagnose the coronavirus and train medical staff to manage COVID-19 cases. The project will also support risk communication, community engagement and behaviour change, focusing on Male’, where transmission is more likely, due to high population density.

Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, the World Bank Country Director for the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Nepal said an additional USD 10 million would be provided to overcome the challenges faced by the country due to the deceleration of a public health emergency owing to COVID-19 pandemic.

“The World Bank’s new emergency financing will help the Maldives government alleviate the impact of COVID-19 and help it strengthen health services and acquire medical resources necessary to protect and treat all Maldivians,” said Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough.

“The additional USD 10 million will help to mitigate the risks and vulnerabilities associated with the health crisis," she added.

The project is financed from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional credit window for developing countries, through the World Bank Group’s Fast Track COVID-19 Facility. It will be implemented by the Ministry of Health with support from existing World Bank Group projects in the country.

The World Bank Group has put forward a USD 14 billion “fast-track package” to reinforce the COVID-19 response in developing countries and expedite recovery time. The immediate response includes financing, policy advice and technical assistance to help countries cope with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

“The IFC is providing USD 8 billion in financing to help private companies affected by the pandemic and preserve jobs. IBRD and IDA are making an initial US$6 billion available for the health-response. As countries need broader support, the World Bank Group will deploy up to USD 60 billion over 15 months to protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery," the World Bank said.