The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government of Bangladesh on Wednesday signed a $100-million loan agreement to support the government’s efforts to address the immediate public health requirements for mitigating the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) secretary Fatima Yasmin and ADB country director Manmohan Parkash signed the loan agreements remotely on behalf of Bangladesh and ADB respectively.
ADB’s Board of Directors approved the assistance on 30 April 2020, according to an ADB media release.
The assistance under the COVID-19 Response Emergency Assistance Project will help strengthen Bangladesh’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing urgently needed health equipment, medical supplies, diagnostic systems, and upgrading of the capacity of the health workforce.
The concessional assistance for the project will be sourced from ADB’s ordinary capital resources with an interest charge at the rate of 1 percent per annum; a term of 40 years, including a grace period of 10 years; repayment of principal at 2 percent per annum for the first 10 years after the grace period, and 4 percent per annum thereafter.
This project will support the immediate procurement of equipment and supplies for testing; upgrading medical infrastructure; and the development of system and community capacities for surveillance, prevention, and response to the pandemic in Bangladesh.
The project will equip 17 medical college hospitals with isolation and critical care units. Capacity and quality of at least 19 laboratories will be upgraded with COVID-19 microbiological diagnostic facilities.
At least 3,500 health sector workers, about 50 percent of whom are women, will be trained in modern skills and knowledge, and the recruitment of more health professionals and technical staff will be supported.
“As a trusted development partner, we are pleased to offer $100 million to bolster the Government’s efforts in managing this catastrophic pandemic, which challenges Bangladesh’s recent successes in socioeconomic development,” Country Director Manmohan Parkash said.
He said Bangladesh has taken decisive actions to manage the COVID-19 outbreak and this assistance will support the Government’s efforts in mitigating the health sector challenges in short and medium terms.
"I am confident the challenges will be met successfully through pragmatic policy decisions, and health sector capacity building and reforms,” Parkash added.
The press release said that ADB has a strong track record of responding rapidly to provide targeted support to Bangladesh in times of emergencies.
On 7 May, ADB approved $500 million to strengthen Bangladesh’s efforts to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an immediate response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ADB had released a $350,000 emergency grant for the procurement of medical supplies and equipment, and $1.3 million from an existing project to provide one-time cash support to 22,619 trainees to enable them to continue their ongoing skills training program.
On 13 April, ADB tripled the size of its initial response to COVID-19 to $20 billion and approved measures to streamline its operations for quicker and more flexible delivery of assistance to help its developing member countries counter the severe macroeconomic and health impacts caused by the pandemic. Visit ADB’s website to learn more about our ongoing response.