Funds will accelerate access to vaccines for people in Tunisia
Tunis, March 26th, 2021 — The World Bank today approved US$100 million in additional financing for the Tunisia COVID-19 Response Project to enable affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
To support the Tunisian government’s National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy to vaccinate 50 percent of its population by the end of 2021, the majority of the additional financing will help pay for the purchase and deployment of several million doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines—through COVAX or directly from manufacturers—as long as they meet World Bank vaccine approval criteria. World Bank funds will support the largest portion of Tunisia’s vaccine supply.
The additional financing will also strengthen key aspects of Tunisia’s vaccine deployment system, including targeting priority groups; training and supervising health care workers to administer vaccines; upgrading the entirety of the national cold chain including the purchase of almost 3,000 freezers and fridges; and developing communications campaigns to increase the uptake of vaccines. Finally, funds from the additional financing will help the Tunisian government monitor and evaluate the deployment of vaccines.
“The World Bank is mobilizing resources to support Tunisia in this critical effort to deploy the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Tony Verheijen, the World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia. “After a year of suffering through this health crisis—compounded by an unprecedented social and economic crisis—the vaccine offers hope to save many lives, end this deadly pandemic, and start a new chapter where Tunisia can build back stronger in the years ahead.”
According to the National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, the vaccine will be rolled out incrementally, starting with high-risk health workers as well as people age 75 years and above. The first group will be followed by other health workers, people between 60-75 years of age, essential workers in public and private sectors, as well as people with comorbidities, before expanding to people between 18-60 years old.
The resources to purchase and administer vaccines come at a critical time in Tunisia’s response to COVID-19. Following the first cases of the disease in early 2020, Tunisia took strong measures to contain the outbreak. However, the caseload increased significantly from September 2020, followed by a spike in infections in January 2021. Despite a recent decline, Tunisia has confirmed nearly 250,000 cases of COVID-19 and suffered more than 8,000 deaths.
The additional financing expands the World Bank’s Tunisia COVID-19 Response Project, which was approved on April 30, 2020. The parent project was deployed through an emergency mechanism to help the country acquire personal protective equipment and design the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan.
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.