ADB to support paediatric, booster vaccination against COVID-19

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering and ADB’s Country Director, Shamir Chakravarti signed the loan and the grant agreement in the capital on 5 August

Medical personnel will be trained to help strengthen outreach health care service delivery and biomedical waste management.

STAFF REPORTER
Thimphu

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved USD $10million loan to help the government purchase safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19.

According to a press release from the bank, the project is part of ADB’s USD $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) launched in December 2020 to offer vaccine-related support to ADB developing member countries.

ADB Country Director for Bhutan, Shamit Chakravarti said “ADB remains committed to support the Government of Bhutan in its efforts to manage the pandemic and to fully carry out its National COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Plan.”

He said the administration of booster and pediatric vaccine doses will protect the entire eligible population against waning immunity and also ensure that Bhutan’s economic recovery is sustainable and inclusive.

The ADB loan will finance the purchase of at least 1.28 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. It will support Bhutan to achieve its 100% vaccine coverage target by 2024.

Vaccines financed by ADB will immunize at least 90% of children aged 5–11 to cover the initial two-dose schedule and the additional doses for the entire eligible population.

ADB will also administer a USD $3 million grant from the Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific (JFPR) to help improve access to primary health care services, includingCOVID-19 vaccination and routine immunization, in remote areas through the purchase and deployment of mobile medical unit vehicles.

Medical personnel will also be trained to help strengthen outreach health care service delivery and biomedical waste management. In addition, the JFPR grant will help the government maintain the current level of COVID-19 disease surveillance capacity to address new COVID-19 variants.

It will also ensure the safety of health care personnel involved in providing COVID-19 care by providing medical and laboratory equipment and supplies, test kits, reagents, and personal protective equipment.

The project builds on ADB’s earlier support for Bhutan’s COVID-19 response, including the $20 million COVID-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support program loan that supported the government’s livelihood and relief measures for businesses and vulnerable groups.

Further, a $2 million grant under the Asia Pacific Disaster Relief Fund to purchase emergency medical supplies and equipment, and a $1.17 million emergency assistance grant for the procurement of personal protective equipment and intensive care unit equipment were also provided.

“ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, itis owned by 68 members—49 from the region,” the press release stated.

The loan and the grant agreement was signed by Finance Minister Namgay Tshering and ADB’s Country Director Shamit Chakravarti in the capital on 5 August.