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FEATURE STORY February 14, 2022

Equipment, Vaccine, and Training: Supporting Mongolia’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery

Doctors, nurses, and medical staff share their stories of fighting on the frontlines of COVID-19 pandemic in Mongolia. Watch this video shot and created entirely with their inputs.

World Bank Group


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Since early 2021, the World Bank has been supporting Mongolia’s response to COVID-19, while helping the country prepare for future health crises.
  • So far, more than 6,100 pieces of medical equipment worth over $16 million have been provided to all provincial and district hospitals as well as central hospitals in Ulaanbaatar.
  • The project also supported training for emergency care doctors and nurses, infection control measures and public information campaigns, as well as the national vaccination campaign.

When Iderzaya Davaajav, a 43-year-old man, first contracted COVID-19, he hardly knew what he would go through. Without any known pre-existing conditions, he was admitted to the hospital with 95% of his lungs damaged.

“It was getting very hard to breathe…,” said Iderzaya. “I was worried a lot. I was worried about my children and my family.”

Iderzaya was in hospital for 41 days while his lungs were infected with the coronavirus and couldn’t function.

“When I was getting treatment at the reanimation unit, I experienced firsthand the benefits of improved health services in the hospital. The doctors took tests and imaging regularly, using modern mobile equipment by my bedside, so I didn’t have to be moved to other places,” he said.

Iderzaya is now fully recovered. He is convinced that without the doctors and the equipment, his life would have been in danger.


"We are really blessed to have this state-of-the-art equipment in our hospital. It is saving lives. It saved the life of Iderzaya and many other young and old men and women we treated at the hospital since the COVID-19 outbreak. We are glad to have this effective equipment at hand to help our treatment."
S. Narangerel
Vice Director, Third State Hospital of Mongolia

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(From left to right) Dr. S. Narangerel, Third State Hospital; Andrei Mikhnev, World Bank Country Manager for Mongolia; S. Enkhbold, Minister of Health, and B. Yanjmaa, International Cooperation Division Director, Ministry of Health. (Photo: World Bank)

Gearing up ahead of the crisis

Mobile x-rays, ventilators, and other types of equipment were part of the package financed under the World Bank-supported Mongolia COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Sector Preparedness Project. The project is supporting Mongolia’s emergency needs while also helping the country prepare for future health crises.

“The project was approved in April 2020, when we had no local COVID-19 outbreaks [in Mongolia]. Thanks to acting early, we were able to gear up ahead of the local outbreak,” said Dr. Buyantogtokh, Project Director at the Ministry of Health. “This made a huge difference. When first patients started to get admitted to the hospitals in late 2020, we were already prepared, so the treatment was very effective.”

This has not only helped the hospitals improve infection prevention control and patient care, but also increased their diagnostic, laboratory, and treatment capacity. The project also supported training for emergency care doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff, as well as infection control measures and public information campaigns. An additional $1 million grant was provided through the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility to help the country supply more than 4 million pieces of personal protective equipment to health care providers and officers at high-risk screening points.


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A nurse treating patients in the reanimation unit of the Third State Central Hospital of Mongolia. Photo: Indra Baatarkhuu, World Bank


“The fact that we were able to procure the equipment at a factory price, on a very tight timeline, and amid a global shortage of medical goods is something that we are very satisfied with and proud of,” said J.Bayartogtokh, a procurement specialist of the project.

Safe and effective vaccines for all  

In February 2021, an additional financing of $50.7 million (to an initial $26.9 million) for the project was approved to support fair and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines, as well as continued response and recovery efforts. Since August 2021, Mongolia has started administering booster shots, as well as vaccines to 12 to 17-year-olds.

“Aging infrastructure had made storing and deploying routine childhood vaccines across the country a challenge,” said Dashpagma, head of the vaccination unit of the National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD). “The influx of COVID-19 vaccines for most of the adult population has exacerbated this problem, so we were in urgent need of a comprehensive solution.”

The vaccine storage facility – four times more spacious than the old facility – was built in accordance with high international standards. The facility is energy-efficient, earthquake resistant, and fully equipped with modern engineering and safety systems to ensure safe and effective deployment.


"With this new facility, we are proud to say that Mongolia’s vaccine storage and cold chain capacity has entered a new stage. Every single vaccination unit in the country, down to soums and bags, is able to receive properly stored vaccines from the central storage, ensuring that all people, including those living in remote areas, are vaccinated."
Dr. S. Altanchimeg
Worked in NCCD handling vaccine storage for over 20 years

Going beyond health

Support for social insurance has provided direct relief for about 120,000 people enrolled in the country’s voluntary plan—including self-employed workers, micro-entrepreneurs, and the informally employed—as well as workers and employers in the formal sector. This helped people cover daily expenses during the crisis while maintaining access to pensions, disability and unemployment benefits, and paid maternity leave. In addition, the World Bank mobilized $5 million through an education project to support the government’s Child Money Program, benefiting more than 1 million children. 

“As a doctor myself, I know that the equipment, vaccines, and training provided have helped to prevent many deaths from COVID-19 and improved medical care for other diseases,” said project lead Kate Mandeville.



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