US$2.5m emergency project to focus on prevention and detection of coronavirus and strengthening of the country’s health system
MAJURO, April 18, 2020 – The World Bank has approved a US$2.5 million emergency project for the Republic of Marshall Islands to support the country’s fight against COVID-19 (coronavirus). The grant will provide rapid support to better prevent and respond to the threat posed by the coronavirus and support longer term systems strengthening for public health emergencies.
To date, Marshall Islands remains one of the few countries without a confirmed COVID-19 case. However, the country remains at moderate to high risk due to usually frequent travel to affected areas of the United States. Due to this risk, the emergency response project will initially focus on supporting prevention and preparedness and will support the Ministry of Health and Human Services and the National Disaster Committee to implement their coronavirus response plan.
The project will assist community prevention through physical distancing, hand washing, the protection of vulnerable populations, and other behaviors that will help guard against outbreaks of COVID-19.
To better monitor and control any potential outbreaks, the project will also provide technical assistance to Marshall Islands’ Ministry of Health and Human Services for case detection, disease investigation, and contact tracing. This will include support for on-island laboratory COVID-19 testing along with funding for technicians, supplies, and training in Majuro and Ebeye labs.
Lastly, the project will work to strengthen the country’s health system to ensure better care and service delivery for the people of Marshall Islands while supporting better protection for front-line health workers and patients. This includes the provision of personal protective equipment, funding for clinical care providers, and training and coaching for back-up staff.
“I extend my gratitude to the World Bank Group on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands for its continuing support to the RMI, especially during this challenging period brought on by COVID-19,” said the Minister of Finance, Hon. Alfred Alfred Jr. “I wish to thank the World Bank Group for availing US$2.5 million under IDA for RMI’s COVID-19 prevention and preparedness efforts. The quick intervention by the World Bank Group is of significant value to our overall COVID-19 response plan.”
“The Republic of the Marshall Islands is one of the less than 20 countries in the world without a confirmed case of COVID-19, so a focus on prevention and preparedness is critical,” said Michel Kerf, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands. “We are pleased to be able to provide this rapid support that will put Marshall Islands in a stronger position to deal with this crisis now, and with future health challenges in the years ahead.”
Within the Pacific, a new World Bank-funded operation for COVID-19 has already been approved in Papua New Guinea, others are under preparation in Fiji, Samoa and Solomon Islands and further COVID-19 response projects across the region are set to be confirmed soon.
The World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response, increase disease surveillance, improve public health interventions, and help the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. It is deploying up to $160 billion in financial support over the next 15 months to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.
Sydney: Hamish Wyatt, +61 450 517 534, hwyatt@Worldbank.org