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FEATURE STORYApril 7, 2022

A Timely Response and Vaccination Program Help Bangladesh Contain the COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Within three weeks of the first COVID-19 case in Bangladesh, the World Bank approved $100 million in emergency support to mobilize critical supplies to test, treat and manage COVID-19 cases.
  • An additional $500 million financing supporting the national vaccination program, with 15 million doses of Astra Zeneca vaccines administered thus far and 110 million syringes helping in the vaccination effort.
  • Support is continuing to strengthen the healthcare system to withstand future pandemics.

Like the rest of the world, Bangladesh was also heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the country has faced challenges in procuring essential supplies with a severely constrained global supply chain. The success of the country in coping with this unprecedented crisis depended on how quickly it could mobilize essential medical supplies. So, how did the government manage?  

Emergency support to manage COVID-19 cases

The World Bank approved emergency financing of $100 million in March 2020 to support the Government’s health response. The financing helped Bangladesh access critical supplies like ventilators, oxygen concentrators, hospital beds, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the front-line health workers. 

Bangladesh public hospitals
30 public hospitals around Bangladesh with Liquid Medical Oxygen plants

The financing helped Bangladesh to ensure the following:

  • Liquid medical oxygen (LMO) system was established at 30 public hospitals across the country. The centralized gas pipelines as part of the LMO systems are critical for treating people suffering from COVID-19 and other respiratory ailments.
  • 300 ventilators were installed at public hospitals dealing with COVID-19 cases across the country.
  • 220 beds for the intensive care unit (ICU) were set up at the Dhaka North City Corporation COVID-19 Dedicated Hospital.
  • 40 ventilators, 20 oxygen concentrators and 20 pulse oximeters for the Bongomata Field Hospital at Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Dhaka.
  • Large quantities of PPE, masks, body bags, gloves, goggles, coveralls, and aprons were supplied for the protection of frontline workers.
  • COVID-19 testing machines and kits used by laboratories dealing with COVID-19 samples.
Bangladesh women during COVID pandemic

Bangladesh was impacted by the pandemic and is now building a stronger health system to respond to future emergencies. 


Support for the National Vaccination Program

In March 2021, the World Bank stepped in with an additional $500 million, becoming the first development partner in Bangladesh to support the national vaccination program. The support so far has helped the country to administer 15 million doses of Astra Zeneca vaccines and procure 110 million syringes that are being used for administering vaccines.


Bangladesh woman getting vaccinated
Financing from World Bank has helped to procure 110 million syringes that are being used for administering vaccines courtesy: Shutterstock.


Coping with future pandemics

Ongoing initiatives for building a stronger health system to respond to future emergencies include:

  • Expansion of ICU capacity and isolation units at 30 public hospitals
  • Setting up of modern microbiology laboratories with PCR (polymerase chain reaction is the gold standard for testing any virus) at 30 public hospitals
  • Establishing national vaccine testing laboratory at the Directorate General of Drug Administration, which will pave the way for the country to approve vaccines locally following international standards as set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Since the 70s, the World Bank has been supporting the country’s health sector and will continue helping the country build a more resilient health system to better deal with future health emergencies. 


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