PHL studying AIIB’s offer to fund health infra reboot

FINANCE Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government will look into the offer of China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to scale up its public-health infrastructure investment for its members to reduce the countries’ vulnerability to outbreaks.

Dominguez took positively AIIB’s initiative to announce a number of public-health infrastructure financing options for its members “in the coming days and weeks” to help build economic resilience and mitigate the impact of future health crises.

“Together with the DOH [Department of Health] we will evaluate AIIB’s offer, as future-proofing our health-care system is definitely a key element in our program,” he told reporters in a message.

To better serve its members hit by Covid-19, AIIB said in a statement last week that it is working on increased infrastructure investment in public health, health care and information and communications technology.

This comes as the number of confirmed cases and deaths continues to rise in the Philippines—where cases breached the 1,000 mark on Saturday—and worldwide.

AIIB said in its analysis that a country’s readiness to cope with epidemics is correlated with its quality of infrastructure, as infrastructure development is a key part of health security and epidemic preparedness.

“Firstly, developing economies will need to increase investments in health care and public-health infrastructure. This is especially crucial in the contexts of megatrends such as urbanization and increased trade connectivity,” it said. “Without proper public-health infrastructure such as clean water and sanitation, developing economies will remain vulnerable to such outbreaks.”

Moreover, the expected rise in the number of senior citizens in Asia from 412 million in 2020 to 802 million within a short span of 20 years also underscores the need to expand health-care infrastructure, AIIB said.

On top of public-health infrastructure, the bank noted that this needs to be supported by robust information and communications technology (ICT) which will improve the efficiency in health care and epidemic control.

Aside from this, infrastructure-supporting economic activities and supply chains will also have to be resilient to ensure the continuity of production and trade despite disruption. This could mean employing ICT technology to better monitor the aspects of supply chains such as making use of automation or online commerce.

“As a multilateral organization, AIIB will work with various stakeholders to prioritize infrastructure projects in areas of sustainable cities, resilient infrastructure, health care and ICT. Raising infrastructure spending and investing it well for development remains critical,” it said.

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