COLOMBO, July 5, 2021– A batch of Pfizer vaccines arrived in Colombo today, the first batch of 800,000 doses to be delivered in the coming weeks. A total of five million vaccines funded by the World Bank’s COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Project in Sri Lanka will be provided by December 2021.
“The delivery of this first batch of vaccines reflects the joint work of the government of Sri Lanka and its partners to ensure equitable access to safe and effective vaccines for Sri Lankans,” mentionned Faris H. Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. âOther vaccines are under review and will arrive by the end of the year. “
Since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in early 2020, Sri Lanka has successfully managed the pandemic, but the country is now facing a third wave of coronavirus. Support from the World Bank, which initially prioritized emergency health needs, will also help Sri Lanka’s public health care to withstand future shocks.
So far, Bank support has helped strengthen Sri Lanka’s testing capacity, including establishing molecular biology laboratories and providing essential laboratory and biomedical equipment. The capacity to treat patients will be improved with the planned oxygen production plants at the district level, ensuring that the oxygen supply is available to the patients. New isolation units and intensive care units / high dependency units have been set up in secondary and tertiary hospitals. World Bank funds have also helped provide essential supplies and services to 70 COVID-19 treatment centers.
“The pandemic has undermined some of Sri Lanka’s impressive human capital gains achieved through many years of investment,” mentionned Lynne D. Sherburne-Benz, Regional Director of Human Development, South Asia Region. âWe are happy to support Sri Lanka in its efforts to recoup losses in health, education and social protection and ensure a better future for all Sri Lankans. “
The vaccines were procured according to the procedure established in the loan agreement signed with the government of Sri Lanka in May 2021, as well as the two World Bank vaccine approval criteria. World Bank funding can be provided for vaccines that have received a regular or emergency license or authorization from at least one of the strict regulatory authorities identified by the World Health Organization for vaccines purchased and / or provided under the COVAX facility, and vaccines that have received WHO prequalification or WHO emergency use list.
The COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Project in Sri Lanka, with a total of $ 298.07 million, including an additional $ 80.5 million for vaccine support, contributed to Sri Lanka pandemic management and prevention efforts. The expected results of the project include the satisfaction of short-term emergency needs, including cash transfers for economically vulnerable populations, as well as long-term strengthening of health systems for pandemic preparedness.