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World Bank approves USD 128 million COVID-19 support for Sri Lanka

ECONOMYNEXT – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved yesterday a USD 128.6 million Sri Lanka COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project, the bank said.

The project includes a USD 35 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) through the World Bank Group’s COVID-19 Fast-Track Facility and a USD 93.6 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional credit window for developing countries. Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health and Indigenous Medical Services will implement the project with support from United Nations agencies and other stakeholders engaged in emergency response, prevention and readiness, the World Bank said in a statement.

The goal of the project, the bank said, is to help the country prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen its public health preparedness.

“The World Bank is working closely with the Government of Sri Lanka to contain the spread of COVID-19 and prepare the country for potential future disease emergencies,” the statement quoted World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough as saying. “Sri Lanka has already taken preventive measures to contain this rapidly evolving pandemic and protect its people. Our support will complement these efforts and help reduce future risks,” she added.

Through the project, the bank said, Sri Lanka will be better equipped to respond to emergencies and strengthen existing institutions such as the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, in addition to developing the first Bio Safety Level 3 laboratory at the National Medical Research Institute.

The bank said the “new fast-track package will benefit the entire Sri Lankan population and prioritise stopping or slowing the spread of the virus, reducing case numbers, and preventing outbreaks in communities.”

“This support will scale up emergency response mechanisms, strengthen the capacity of laboratories and hospitals, treat patients, train medical staff, and raise public awareness about handwashing, hygiene, and social distancing,” it added. (Colombo/April3/2020)

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