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Results BriefsJune 27, 2022

World Bank Helped Bangladesh Get Critical Supplies to Fight COVID-19

A patient getting oxygen from the central line at Rangamati hospital. Photo: UNICEF

A patient getting oxygen from the central line at Rangamati hospital. Photo: UNICEF


The World Bank helped Bangladesh’s emergency response to COVID-19 by mobilizing supplies including ventilators, oxygen concentrators and hospital beds and is now supporting a national vaccination campaign and helping to strengthen health systems in case of future outbreaks.


Like the rest of the world, Bangladesh faced severe health and economic challenges from the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020. With the international supply chain constrained, the government was desperate to secure emergency medical supplies, including ventilators, hospital beds, oxygen, and testing machines. It also faced a shortage of good quality personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health workers. The government needed support to develop protocols and guidelines to deal with the disease and subsequently to deploy vaccines. 


Within three weeks of the detection of the first case in Bangladesh in April 2020, the World Bank approved $100 million of IDA credit to support the health ministry’s emergency response. Subsequently, $500 million of IDA credit was approved in March 2021 to support the government’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The project was designed to be flexible to ensure maximum effectiveness, particularly for the quick procurement of supplies. It served as a platform to leverage partner financing, with the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) providing co-financing. Bangladesh was the first IDA country with AIIB co-financing for a COVID-19 operation. In addition, the World Bank provided technical support to the government and partners to develop protocols and guidelines and played a key role in developing the national vaccine deployment plan. 


The project was instrumental in enabling the government to secure critical supplies during the emergency phase. Now the focus has shifted toward prevention by ensuring vaccinations and strengthening health systems to deal with future outbreaks, not only of COVID-19 but any pandemic. Specific results achieved include:

  • 68 million doses of vaccines administered.

  • 100 million syringes procured for administering the vaccines.

  • Liquid medical oxygen (LMO) systems established at 30 public hospitals. This is a key milestone in strengthening the health system as access to oxygen supplies is critical for dealing with COVID-19 as well as other respiratory diseases. These hospitals did not previously have centralized LMO systems.

    Bangladesh public hospitals

  • 40 ventilators, 20 oxygen concentrators and 20 pulse oximeters are in use at the Bongomata Field Hospital at Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Dhaka.

  • 300 ventilators were installed at public hospitals handling COVID-19 cases across the country. 220 beds for intensive care units were set-up at the Dhaka North City Corporation COVID-19 Dedicated Hospital.

  • Large quantities of PPE, masks, body bags, gloves, goggles, coveralls, and aprons were supplied for the protection of frontline workers.

  • COVID-19 testing machines and kits were used by laboratories dealing with COVID-19 samples.

  • A National Vaccine Testing Laboratory is being set up at the Directorate General of Drug Administration. This will pave the way for the country to approve vaccines locally, following WHO protocols.

  • In preparation for any future pandemics, the following are being put in place: Modern microbiology laboratories with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing -- the gold standard for testing any virus, at 30 public hospitals; 20-bed isolation units and 10-bed intensive care units with gas pipelines at 30 public hospitals; 5-bed ICU at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Dhaka.

The World Bank
Oxygen supply ensured at the Special Care Newborn Unit (SCANU) in Brahmanbaria District Hospital. Photo: UNICEF

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank responded promptly to the Bangladesh government’s request for assistance in dealing with the pandemic by approving $100 million of IDA credit in April 2020 as part of the Bank’s global COVID-19 Fast-Track Facility of $6 billion using a multi-phased programmatic approach (MPA). Subsequently, in March 2021, an additional $500 million of IDA credit was approved to support Bangladesh’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The World Bank was the first development partner in Bangladesh to mobilize financial resources for COVID-19 vaccines.


AIIB is co-financing the COVID-19 response project with a $100 million soft loan (for non-vaccination-related activities). In addition, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has set up a trust fund with an initial contribution of $250,000 to mobilize technical support for the project. The World Health Organization is leading the technical dialogue on the national response and the World Bank is working closely with them. Several technical committees have been set up by the government to guide the response, which the World Bank is supporting by mobilizing knowledge and international expertise.

Moving Forward 

The World Bank will continue to support the government in its COVID-19 response. Initiatives are being taken to train medical personnel and strengthen health systems, including expansion of ICU capacity and isolation units, setting up PCR laboratories, establishing the national vaccine testing laboratory, and installing centralized medical oxygen systems. These are tangible assets for the country and will continue to benefit future generations.


The project benefited all those who suffered from COVID-19 and the medical personnel and officials in Bangladesh who have had to deal with the disease. As of April 5, 2022, 13.85 million people were tested at a laboratory for COVID-19, 1.95 million people were confirmed to have the disease and 1.88 million recovered. The LMO system set-up at 30 public hospitals will continue to assist people requiring oxygen support. The health systems support and training provided for medical personnel will help the country prepare for any future pandemic.