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WB extends P5.09-billion aid to PHL to fight coronavirus spread


The World Bank (WB) is extending $100 million, or P5.09 billion, to the Philippines to finance its efforts to combat the coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Documents obtained by the BusinessMirror showed the assistance will be directed to improving the country’s health-care system and will be implemented over a period of four years.

The project will have four components—strengthen emergency Covid-19 health-care responses; emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) prevention, preparedness, and response capacity at the national and local levels; implementation management and monitoring evaluation of projects; and contingency emergency responses.

“This will be fully financed by World Bank. No funding counterpart from the Government of the Philippines is expected. The base year for the cost estimates is 2020. The exchange rate is $1:P50.9 based on the BSP rate as of March 29, 2020,” the document stated.

The bulk of the funds, or P3.14 billion of the amount, will be spent this year. More than half of this amount or P2.286 billion will be spent for Component 1, or the country’s emergency Covid-19 health-care response.

The documents stated that of this cost, around P1.76 billion will be spent for medical and laboratory equipment, as well as reagents followed by P404.8 million for enhanced isolation/quarantine facilities and provision of ambulances.

The amount will also cover the P400 million allocated to procure medical supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPEs) and medicines.

In 2021, the project will spend P1.056 billion, the bulk of which, or P571.62 million, will be spent for the country’s emergency Covid-19 health-care response.

The lion’s share of the spending for emergency response, or P440.1 million in 2021, will be for the procurement of medical and laboratory equipment and reagents.

For 2022 and 2023, the total spending will reach P484.37 million and P408.39 million. The funding in these years will cover mostly for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) prevention, preparedness, and response capacity at the national and local levels, as well as the implementation management and monitoring evaluation of the project.

Earlier, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the primary institution in charge of fighting the Covid-19, requested an additional P282.94-million budget to fight the pandemic.

In a report released by the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), a large chunk of the budget request was for medical and laboratory supplies and equipment, as well as medicines.

The RITM requested for P112.55 million for medical and laboratory supplies; P90.97 million for medical and laboratory equipment; and P45.39 million for drugs and medicines. The Neda report indicated that the most expensive medical equipment needed for the treatment of Covid-19 patients is the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, which has a unit cost of P8 million.

This was followed by a PCR machine which costs P5 million each; ventilators, P1.5 million each; and biosafety cabinets, P1 million each.

Other medical equipment needed by RITM includes defibrillators worth P500,000 each; cardiac monitors and heavy duty suction machines worth P250,000 each; central monitors, P150,000 each; ECG machines, P100,000 each; infusion pumps, P80,000 each; and pulse oximeters worth P2,000 each.

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