GEORGETOWN, Guyana (Stabroek News) – The World Bank on Wednesday approved US$7.5m ($1.5b) for the Guyana COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to support the country in tackling the current pandemic.
“The World Bank is working with member countries in the Caribbean to help them respond to COVID-19 and prepare for a resilient recovery. This financing for Guyana will help the country tackle the current crisis and handle future emergencies,” said Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.
She added “The project will strengthen care for COVID-19 patients, im-prove the country’s ability to identify positive cases, and enhance the health system’s capacity to deliver critical care to vulnerable populations, including the elderly and people with chronic conditions.”
A press release from the World Bank said that the Guyana COVID-19 Emergency Response Project will boost laboratory capacity, support screening and surveillance, bolster contact tracing, and equip healthcare facilities for more effective treatment and care of COVID-19 patients.
The project, the release said, will also include activities specifically targeted to reach local communities across the country and in the hinterland through expansion of contact tracing and psychosocial support to vulnerable households. Risk communication materials will be translated into local languages to ensure that vulnerable groups can tap reliable information about the virus and its spread. The project will also contribute to preparing the health system for the effective deployment of a safe and approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Guyana accesses interest-free financing from the International Development Association (IDA), with a maturity of 40 years, including a grace period of 10 years. In late July 2020, Guyana also benefited from a US$1 million grant through the World Bank-administered Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF), which was disbursed to PAHO/WHO.
The former APNU+AFC government had not been successful in receiving substantial help from the World Bank even though an early application was made. This was believed to be due to the five-month electoral crisis.
This is the second major credit received for the COVID fight in recent weeks and will again raise questions about the extent of the debt the PPP/C government intends to absorb.
Earlier this month a US$22m loan was approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for the purchase of medical equipment and personal protective equipment for frontline workers among other things. A release from the IDB explained that the sum which was released under the Contingent Credit Facility for Natural Disaster and Public Health Emergencies will be used to finance public expenditures necessary to contain transmission of the disease and mitigate further health and economic consequences.
Specifically the loan is earmarked for the purchase of medical equipment, laboratory equipment and inputs, ambulances, and personal protective equipment for health workers, surveillance officers, border personnel.