Coronavirus In Pakistan: Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank (WB) to Give $588 Million for fight against the pandemic.
On Wednesday, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank offered to financially help Pakistan fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. A total of 588 million dollars (ninety three billion rupees) is going to be granted to Pakistan for its emergency response in the fight against the coronavirus. This money will also be utilized for the activities that Pakistan should have undertaken much earlier.
According to the details, the ADB will provide 350 million dollars to Pakistan. ADB will immediately release $50 million for Pakistan to fight against the deadly coronavirus pandemic. A total of $35 million will also be given to Pakistan in regular tranches to battle the fast-spreading virus.
On the other hand, an amount of 238 million dollars has also been approved from the World Bank Funding. It is according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Planning and Development.
A Concept Clearance Committee on Wednesday approved this amount. The World Bank’s 238 million dollars also include the $100 million under WB’s COVID-19 Fast Track Facility. However, a formal request has not yet been made to the World Bank for the COVID-19 Fast Track Facility. Tthe past few days have been wasted in calling meetings for fulfilling the procedural requirements. The Planning Ministry has held two back-to-back meetings of the concept clearance committee. Another is also scheduled, demonstrating very slow response on part of the government.
Revelation by the Planning Commission
All this was revealed by the Planning Commission after a meeting with country representatives of the two lending agencies (i.e. ADB and WB). The meeting was held to discuss Pakistan’s preparedness and response to fight COVID-19.
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan presided over the meeting. World Bank Country Director Illango Patchamuthu, ADB Country Director Xiaohong Yang, besides Member Social Sector Dr Shabnum Sarfraz, Member Private Sector Asim Saeed, Director General Health Dr Safi and representatives of the ministries of economic affairs, finance and national health services attended this meeting.
A project concept “Pakistan National Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan for COVID-19” was also approved in the meeting. The participants of the meeting agreed that they needed to greatly improve cooperation to jointly fight the current challenges. Besides this, it was also agreed to work to demonstrate firm commitment for a multifaceted cooperation in different fields.
Need for this financial aid
The need for this arose with a three years old global assessment’s revelation. It revealed that Pakistan’s public health system is very poor in detecting and responding to the outbreak of any major infectious disease.
According to the working paper that has been prepared for the approval of $588 million aid, a 2017 Joint External Evaluation (JEE) of International Health Regulation (IHR) capacities’ gave very poor rating to Pakistan in 19 technical areas. The report had put emphasis on strengthening national systems and capacities for disease surveillance and response.
But the spread of epidemic reveals that the country has not improved its public health systems in past three years. According to the government documents;
“There is currently lack of national level legislation that relates to pandemic or epidemics control and its requisite sub-domains and there is a dearth of public health professionals in the public sector”.
It further added;
“Although there is no public health emergency preparedness plan currently in place, the National Action Plan for Covid-19 includes Covid-19 Clinical Care & Prevention Guidelines 2020 that has been developed and circulated by the Ministry of Health.
The Planning Ministry papers stated that in the face of the pandemic, Pakistan is in need of urgent measures in its health sector.
Impact of the Pandemic and the aid
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) stated in a report published prior that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak could cost Pakistan’s economy between $16.387 million to $4.95 billion, or 0.01 to 1.57 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in losses.
All this financial aid will be crucial in enhancing the capacity of resources-deficient public hospitals and laboratories. This money will also be utilized for the activities that Pakistan should have undertaken much earlier with its own resources. It will also cater to the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic. Henceforth, this will surely play a huge role in helping Pakistan in this time of crisis