Washington, April 30, 2020 – The World Bank today approved EUR 90 million (US$ 98.5 million equivalent) of financing to support North Macedonia’s efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19, strengthen national systems for public health preparedness, and help mitigate some of the social consequences of the pandemic.
The Emergency COVID-19 Response Project will provide immediate support to limit the local transmission of the virus by strengthening disease surveillance systems and public health laboratories through the procurement of diagnostic kits, reagents, consumables, personal protective equipment and training on relevant protocols. Support will also be provided for limited renovations to create additional Intensive Care Unit beds, for medical waste management and disposal systems, and to mobilize additional health system capacity through financing the salaries of trained and well-equipped frontline health workers who were not envisioned in the state budget.
“The World Bank is helping to safeguard people from the epidemic and to address the urgent health sector priorities for reducing pressure on health systems,” says Marco Mantovanelli, World Bank Country Manager for North Macedonia and Kosovo. “In addition, due to the economic consequences of COVID-19, particularly on the vulnerable households, the project will provide social assistance to mitigate these effects as well as to enable them to comply with the social distancing measures.”
The project will also finance temporary income support to eligible individuals and households to enable them to comply with the social distancing measures the government has introduced to contain the pandemic, while protecting household income. This includes finance for the provision of temporary social assistance through cash transfers to vulnerable households affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19 and the provision of food and basic supplies to quarantined populations and households affected by the virus. Additionally, it will finance temporary unemployment insurance through the provision of a cash benefit for those who have lost their jobs due to the crisis.
In addition to this emergency project, the Government and the World Bank plan to activate up to EUR 50 million from an emergency funding mechanism that is embedded in the recently approved Local Roads Connectivity Project. This mechanism provides fast-disbursing funds that will be used to support viable micro, small and medium enterprises impacted by both the public health measures limiting commercial activities and by depressed demand locally and internationally. This funding will enable these firms to pay salaries to thousands of their employees in the next two months.
The World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response. We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to $160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including $50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms.