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Speeches & TranscriptsJuly 21, 2022

Remarks by World Bank Group President David Malpass at the WHO Ministerial Briefing on the Global COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy and Implementation

Thank you very much.

Over the past months, much of the world’s attention has shifted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the risks it poses to global supplies of energy and food. We are simultaneously facing many other crises, including the sharp rise in inflation and poverty, climate, the learning losses from school closures, and more countries facing conflicts and violence.

As a result, attention has been diverted from Covid, and the demand for vaccines has slowed down. The public health response has adapted to the situation on the ground to focus vaccination efforts on the most vulnerable: the elderly, the immunocompromised, and the health workers.

Even as the virus has continued to mutate, vaccines remain highly effective at reducing serious illness and death. They are an important tool for helping countries get on the path to recovery.

The World Bank is committed to working with partners to support client countries as they work to recover from the reversals in development. The World Bank has supported developing countries with COVID-19 emergency health and vaccine operations in more than 100 countries amounting to over $14 billion.

Vaccine doses procured with Bank financing through the COVAX cost-sharing mechanism have been fully delivered as agreed with client countries.

We continue to work closely with the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership to support 34 countries needing the most urgent attention to achieve their coverage goals and promote vaccination for the most vulnerable.

Our vaccine financing is helping countries purchase and distribute vaccines, expand storage and cold chains, develop tracking systems, train health workers, engage citizens and communities, and strengthen health systems. Let me give you three examples of the Bank’s efforts in supporting countries:

In Bangladesh, with the World Bank's support, the government procured 68 million doses of vaccines and 110 million pieces of syringes, which helped to vaccinate around half of the Bangladeshi population. Within three weeks of the detection of the first COVID-19 case in Bangladesh, the World Bank approved $100 million in emergency support to test, treat and manage COVID-19 cases. Subsequently, an additional $500 million in IDA financing was approved in March 2021 to support the national vaccination program.

In Uganda, the World Bank supports two health sector projects, totaling $195.5 million. The Uganda COVID-19 Project supports the Government to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and helps strengthen national systems for public health emergency preparedness. It covers the costs of procuring and deploying COVID-19 vaccines, supports the acquisition of cold chain equipment to transport vaccines, and facilitates efforts for dedicated vaccination campaigns. Our second project in Uganda is to help recover the gains in essential health services.

And in Liberia, our operations amounting to $24.5 million help ensure effective vaccine deployment through vaccination system strengthening; enhance clinical care and control of COVID-19 cases; reinforce communication strategies and community engagement to increase vaccine uptake; and further strengthen preparedness, detection, and response activities.

Even as the world works to maintain focus on the COVID-19 response, the latest data from WHO and UNICEF show how severely the immunization coverage for other vaccines has dropped. The World Bank has been working closely with Gavi and governments of client countries to monitor countries’ financing of routine vaccines in more than 20 of the highest-risk countries. In ten of these countries, governments chose to complement their domestic budgets by drawing on World Bank financing to pay for routine vaccines.

We have also been working through World Bank-financed projects and through the Global Financing Facility platform to provide financing and prioritization of primary health care systems that will deliver immunization and other essential services.

Of our World Bank’s active operations, 177 specifically aim to strengthen immunization, including mainstreaming them into primary health care.

I also want to mention ongoing efforts to provide additional financing to address critical gaps in pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response (PPR). The World Bank’s Board of Directors approved on June 30 the establishment of a financial intermediary fund (FIF) that will bring additional, dedicated resources for PPR at national, regional, and global levels, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries. I remain engaged on the design, governance, and operations of the FIF and met yesterday with Priya, Mamta, and Mari to discuss it. It will incentivize countries to increase investments, enhance coordination among partners, and serve as a platform for advocacy.

Finally, allow me to use this opportunity and invite all member States to continue collaborating to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to its end, including vaccinating the most vulnerable, and work together to build stronger, resilient health systems that are ready to prevent, detect and respond to future emergencies.

Thank you.


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