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PRESS RELEASE March 11, 2021

PHILIPPINES: WB Approves US$500 Million for COVID-19 Vaccines and Pandemic Response to Boost Resilient Recovery

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2021 — The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$500 million in funding to support the Philippine government’s program to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, strengthen the country’s health systems, and overcome the impact of the pandemic especially on the poor and the most vulnerable.

The newly approved financing will support the Philippines to vaccinate the population based on vulnerability and risk. Priority groups include frontline health workers, senior citizens, indigent communities, followed by priority groups of teachers, government workers, indigenous peoples, and then the remaining population. Prioritization of vulnerable groups reduces the health and economic consequences of the pandemic, protecting those that are at a high risk of infection and of developing severe COVID and adverse outcomes.

“Procuring and administering vaccines provides the country an added layer of defense against COVID-19 on top of public health measures or interventions like social distancing, wearing of masks, and washing hands,” said Ndiamé Diop, World Bank Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. “Inclusive deployment of vaccines in line with the World Health Organization Fair Allocation Framework is critical for preventing grave illness and deaths from COVID-19, opening the economy in earnest, ensuring a resilient recovery, and restoring jobs and incomes.”

Besides the purchase of vaccines, the additional financing will also support the Philippines to continue to implement public health measures until a majority of the population has been vaccinated or is deemed safe based on global evidence. The use of web platforms to gather citizen feedback on the vaccination program as well as beneficiary feedback surveys to boost engagement with citizens will help ensure effective implementation.  

The board approved this additional financing to the ongoing Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project approved in April 2020 to help the country meet urgent healthcare needs to address the pandemic and bolster the country’s public health preparedness. Implemented by the Department of Health, this initial project currently provides funding to  purchase laboratory equipment and test kits, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, gowns; and ambulances as well as medical equipment and supplies such as mechanical ventilators, portable x-ray machines, infusion pumps.

The Bank has been a partner of the Philippines for 75 years, providing support to the Philippines’ development programs and projects. Since 1945, it has mobilized funding, global knowledge, and partnerships to support the Philippines’ efforts to alleviate poverty, upgrade infrastructure, improve health, nutrition, and education, strengthen resilience against climate change and natural disasters, promote peace, and enhance global competitiveness.

The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems. The financing builds on the broader World Bank Group COVID-19 response, which is helping more than 100 countries strengthen health systems, support the poorest households, and create supportive conditions to maintain livelihoods and jobs for those hit hardest.