A credit agreement has been inked between the Bangladesh government and the World Bank on 11th April (Sunday) at the Economic Relations Division (ERD) in the capital.
Fatima Yasmin, secretary of the ERD, and Mercy Tembon, country director of the World Bank, Dhaka office, signed the agreement.
According to the agreement, the World Bank will facilitate Bangladesh with $500 million as additional financing for the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate 5.4 crore people.
The World Bank will provide the loan under the “Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness” project being implemented by the Health Services Division.
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors sanctioned the additional financing from the International Development Association (IDA).
The IDA credit has a 30-year term, including a five-year grace period. Bangladesh currently has the largest ongoing IDA programme totalling over $13.5 billion.
However, the additional financing will help Bangladesh procure safe and effective vaccines, expand vaccine storage facilities, and distribute vaccines to about 31 per cent of its population under the government’s prioritised plan of covering 40 per cent of the population in the first phase of vaccination.
The project will continue to provide support to strengthen the national health systems to detect, prevent, and treat Covid-19 cases, as well as prepare for future health emergencies.
Again, it will provide training programmes for successful vaccination and strengthen the capacity of the Directorate General of Drug Administration for testing vaccines in the country.
The financing will cover the cost of deployment of the vaccines acquired through the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) for about 20 per cent of the population.
For the remaining 11 per cent of the population, it will cover direct purchases of vaccines from manufacturers or through COVAX, and the costs related to administering the vaccination.
The government is purchasing vaccines using resources that will cover another 9 per cent of the population.
According to the World Bank, with this additional financing, its support to the project now stands at $600 million. Besides, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is providing $100 million more for this project.
The World Bank was among the first development partners to support Bangladesh and has committed $35 billion in grants, interest-free, and concessional credits to the country since its Independence.