$200m COVID-19 financing agreement signed with WB: GoP

By Staff Reporter
Saturday – April 4, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The economic affairs (EA) minister Muhammad Hammad Azhar witnessed the signing ceremony, through video link, for project “pandemic response effectiveness in Pakistan” worth $200 million (m) with the World Bank (WB), Friday, the development objective of the project is to support the government to prepare and respond to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in Pakistan and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness.

According to an official statement, the project will primarily focus health sector operations to help address the critical country-level needs to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19.

It will also support strengthening the country’s national health systems for public health preparedness and response needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak, and includes mitigation measures in social protection and education to help the poor and vulnerable cope with the immediate impact of the pandemic.

The scope of this project will be nationwide, covering all provinces/territories of the country.

The primary project beneficiaries will be infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel as well as service providers at medical and testing facilities (both public and private), and national and provincial departments of health.

Staff of key technical departments and provincial health departments will also benefit from the project as their capabilities increase through the strengthened institutional capacity.

The primary target groups for the support to mitigate socioeconomic impacts are expected to be the affected households with high vulnerability to shocks, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, who tend to have limited assets and other mechanisms to protect themselves from shocks (bottom 20 of the distribution); and households who are affected due to mobility restrictions such as quarantines that disrupt their ability to meet basic needs.

Households may benefit from multiple interventions under the proposed project which, inter-alia, includes emergency cash transfers to up to four million families enrolled in the safety program across the country.

Emergency food supply for quarantined populations; and children’s learning activities by ensuring remote learning sessions through broadcast-to minimise the COVID-19 emergency effects on children’s and youth learning.

EA minister Azhar, thanked the WB for extending its support to government of Pakistan (GoP) for carrying out national drive against COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

EA division secretary Syed Pervaiz Abbas signed the financing agreement on behalf of GoP while provincial project agreements were signed by the designated officers of provincial governments.

WB country director Patchamuthu Illangovan signed the agreements on behalf of the WB.