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Results BriefsMay 30, 2022

Supporting the Philippines’ COVID-19 Emergency Response

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the Philippines, the World Bank supported the country’s efforts to scale up vaccination, strengthen its health system, and counter the impact of the pandemic, especially on the poor and the most vulnerable. In addition to support for procurement and deployment of 33 million doses of vaccines, the project funded purchases of emergency medical/laboratory equipment and supplies, ambulances, and civil works, including the construction of negative pressure rooms for frontline health facilities.


For Vilma Campos, a Quezon City resident and mother of five, life has improved since her family received their vaccinations. “My daughter has resumed working, so has my husband,” she said. “Life is no longer that difficult.”

Before COVID-19 hit, Vilma’s job was taking care of children. When the authorities started implementing quarantine restrictions, she, her daughter, and her spouse lost their jobs. Vilma said her family was always wondering where to get the next meal. “What gave us hope was the arrival of vaccines,” she said. “Things have improved and I really wish we can all overcome this pandemic.”  


The Philippines was one of the countries hit hardest by COVID-19 in the East Asia and Pacific region. To manage the spread of the virus, authorities implemented strict quarantine restrictions and health protocols, restricted mobility of people as wells as the operational capacity of businesses. As a result, the Philippine economy suffered. In 2020, GDP contracted 9.5 percent, driven by significant declines in consumption and investment growth, and exacerbated by the sharp slowdown in exports, tourism, and remittances. Many Filipinos lost jobs and experienced food shortages and difficulties accessing health care. Due to global shortages, procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test machines, and test kits proved challenging in the early phases of the pandemic.


The project supported the country’s efforts to scale up vaccination across the national territory, strengthen the country’s health system, and overcome the impact of the pandemic especially on the poor and the most vulnerable. Besides vaccines, the project supported procurement of PPE, essential medical equipment such as mechanical ventilators, cardiac monitors, portable x-ray machines; laboratory equipment and test kits; and ambulances. The project also supported construction and refurbishment of negative pressure isolation rooms and quarantine facilities, as well as the expansion of the country’s laboratory capacity at the national and sub-national levels for prevention of and preparedness against emerging infectious diseases. It funded retrofitting of the national reference laboratory – the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) – as well as six sub-national and public health laboratories in Baguio, Cebu, Davao, and Manila, and the construction and expansion of laboratory capacity in priority regions without such facilities.


During year1 to year 2, the following results were achieved:

33 million vaccines

The Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project supported the procurement and deployment of 33 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine across the country. The project also supported pediatric vaccination for 7.5 million Filipino children.

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) provided $900 million of funding in total for the emergency response project. The project provided $100 million for medical and laboratory equipment and supplies; $500 million for primary vaccine doses, ancillaries, and end-to-end logistics; and $300 million for boosters and additional doses, and end-to-end logistics.


The World Bank collaborated with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) on project preparation and vaccines financing. The Bank worked with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on the Vaccine Introduction Readiness Tool (VIRAT) and Vaccine Readiness Assessment Tool (VRAF) Tool 2.0, which is used to assess status, gaps, and issues in four domains: planning and management, supply and distribution, program delivery, and supporting systems and infrastructure. Australia, through the AGaP Trust Fund, provided a US$300,000 grant to support implementation. The World Bank also collaborated with UNICEF to address vaccine hesitancy and with the WHO to procure RT-PCR machines and test kits.

Looking Ahead

The Philippine government is considering additional support for scaling up testing capacity. Equipment has been acquired and civil works commissioned through the project are now in use. An action plan is being developed for continued implementation of environmental and social safeguards employed in the project, such as COVID-19 waste management and assessment of accessibility of vulnerable groups to health care services. These will be institutionalized using the manuals developed and through directive issuances by the Department of Health. The project also supports the development of National Action Plan Towards Increased Accessibility of Health Care Facilities for Vulnerable Groups. The World Bank is also supporting the Department of Health and priority LGUs in strengthen local health systems for Universal Health Coverage.