ISLAMABAD: The government on Tuesday signed a $2 million grant agreement with the Asian Development Bank to strengthen efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The grant financed from the Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund will help provide life-saving medical supplies, diagnostic and laboratory facilities and other critical equipment for communities affected by the pandemic.
Economic Affairs Division Secretary Noor Ahmed and ADB Country Director for Pakistan Xiaohong Yang signed the agreement.
Accord signed by EAD secretary and bank’s country director
At the same time, the ADB country director and Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund in Pakistan, Aida Girma, signed the administrative agreement, which will enable Unicef to procure the supplies and equipment using the grant.
“ADB continues to work closely with the government and development partners to assist Pakistan in sustaining the gains made in combating the pandemic” said the ADB country director.
“The grant assistance will help strengthen Pakistan’s response to the Covid-19 challenge. Pakistan needs to maintain its strong efforts to contain the pandemic through robust prevention and control measures as well as by ensuring the provision of essential medical and emergency healthcare facilities, considering the recent increase in the infection rates,” Mr Yang said.
The grant supplements an initial $500,000 provided by the ADB through Unicef to support Pakistan’s procurement of emergency supplies and personal protective equipment. These have been delivered to doctors, nurses and other medical staff in major health facilities prioritised by the government.
“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Unicef has been at the forefront supporting the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the country,” said Unicef Representative in Pakistan Aida Girma.
“More specifically, Unicef has supported the national response in risk communication and community engagement by ensuring timely and accurate information to families and communities and promoting positive behavior to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19, and procured life-saving medical supplies and personal protective equipment.
“We have also endeavored to ensure continuation of essential services including immunization and health, nutrition, education, child protection and water, sanitation and hygiene. We appreciate ADB’s continued and generous financial support to Unicef’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic”.
In April, the ADB reallocated $30m from the National Disaster Risk Management Fund to support Pakistan’s pandemic response. The National Disaster and Risk Management Fund allocated an additional $20m from earned interest from the Endowment Fund capitalised under the project.
In May, the ADB approved a $300m emergency assistance loan to solidify Pakistan’s public health response to the pandemic and help reboot economic activities. The Norwegian government has also contributed a $5.28m grant to be administered through the ADB to strengthen the emergency response system in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa amid the Covid-19 crisis.
In June, the bank approved a $500m budget support loan to help deliver social protection programmes to the poor and vulnerable, expand health sector capabilities and deliver a pro-poor fiscal stimulus to boost growth and create jobs.
Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2020