WASHINGTON, April 2, 2020— The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved the $128.6 million Sri Lanka COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project to help the country prevent, detect, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen its public health preparedness.
The new fast track package will benefit the entire Sri Lankan population and prioritize 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.
“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,” said Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. “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.”
The project includes a $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 $93.6 million credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional credit window for developing countries. The 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
Through this project, the Government of Sri Lanka will be better equipped to respond to emergencies and strengthen existing institutions such as the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, which is now Sri Lanka’s only available medical facility outfitted for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases.
In addition, the first Bio Safety Level 3 laboratory will be developed at the National Medical Research Institute, Sri Lanka’s premier biomedical research center and main laboratory for virology, bacteriology, and parasitology.
World Bank Group COVID-19 Response
The World Bank Group is rolling out a $14 billion fast-track package to strengthen the COVID-19 response in developing countries and shorten the time to recovery. 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 $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 $160 billion over 15 months to protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.