WASHINGTON D.C., April 5, 2021 – The World Bank Board of Directors approved US$150 million in additional financing for the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project in Ecuador. This is the first World Bank- financed operation in Latin America and the Caribbean for COVID-19 vaccine procurement. The new resources will be used to purchase and distribute vaccines and to support pandemic management in the country.
Ecuador is among the most affected countries in the region. Although the entire population has been impacted by the crisis, young women and low-skilled workers are particularly vulnerable to the economic consequences of the pandemic, as many of them have lost their jobs. In 2020, the poverty rate grew by approximately 8 percentage points, representing more than 1.3 million people, and the inequality gap widened.
“We have always said that the priority of the economic program during the pandemic was and continues to be health. We have received support from multilateral entities, and on this occasion, US$150 million from the World Bank. These resources are earmarked to finance vaccination and are the result of the efforts of a credible economic program, which serves the most vulnerable population while promoting the country’s economic stability and recovery. I appreciate the trust in the government. We will continue working for everyone, especially in terms of health, which is the national priority,” said the Economic and Finance Minister, Mauricio Pozo.
With the approved financing, the government expects to immunize approximately 30 percent of the population. Vaccines purchased with these resources must meet the World Bank’s stringent vaccine approval criteria. Additionally, these resources will be used to strengthen the management of supply chains and logistics for vaccine storage and handling; the purchase of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers; and information and communication campaigns to promote vaccine access. The funds will also help the Ecuadorian government track and evaluate vaccine distribution.
“One year after the onset of a health crisis of unprecedented social and economic impact, the vaccine offers hope,” said Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean. "The mobilization of financing for vaccination is essential to achieve equitable, broad and rapid access to safe, effective vaccines,” he said.
To coordinate vaccination activities effectively and efficiently, the World Bank works together with other multilateral banks, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF). It receives technical assistance from the World Health Organization-Pan American Health Organization (WHO - PAHO), the United Nations’ Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other agencies of the United Nations system.
The additional funding expands the COVID-19 Emergency Response Project in Ecuador, which was approved on April 2, 2020. This project, one of the first of its kind to be approved in the region, supports the country’s efforts to procure equipment and supplies to increase the number of intensive care units and isolation rooms, as well as protective equipment for healthcare workers and a communication campaign for healthcare workers.
The additional financing is a variable rate, fixed-spread loan with a maturity period of 18 years, including a five-year grace period.
World Bank Group Response to COVID-19
The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes US $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems. The financing builds on the broader World Bank Group COVID-19 response, which is helping more than 100 countries strengthen health systems, support the poorest households, and create supportive conditions to maintain livelihoods and jobs for those hit hardest.
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PRESS RELEASE NO: 2021/133/LAC