With revenue shrinking due to the shutdown for four months, Nepal is in a very difficult financial situation. However, Nepal needs to purchase the vaccine to administer to its population and revive economic activities.
As Nepal has set a target to vaccinate over 70 percent of the population by mid of 2022 to achieve the herd immunity, it requires a huge amount of additional resources for this. Although Nepal has already ordered for 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine and published notice to purchase another 5 million, the country needs the resources for it.
In this context, the agreement reached between Nepal Government and the World Bank is highly important. Nepal and the World Bank signed an agreement for additional financing of $75 million to support to access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for Nepal’s prioritized populations.
The agreement was signed by the Finance Secretary, Sishir Kumar Dhungana on behalf of the Government of Nepal and the World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, Faris Hadad-Zervos.
“The additional financing is an important and timely support to the government’s overall plans to vaccinate at least 72 percent of the Nepali population,” stated Sishir Kumar Dhungana, Finance Secretary. “It supports the government’s health response to the pandemic, by supporting procurement of COVID-19 vaccines as well as strengthening health systems for their effective deployment as per the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan.”
The additional financing builds on the $29 million for the original COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project that was signed in April 2020. The project will be implemented under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Population by the Department of Health Services and associated institutional bodies.
About 90 percent of the additional financing will support the purchase, supply and distribution of safe and effective COVID‐19 vaccines. The rest of the financing will support existing public health measures to test, trace and treat the COVID-19 infection through a strengthened health system; community engagement and risk communication to improve the demand and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines; and project implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and learning.
“Equitable and fast access to effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines is vital to save lives and support a resilient recovery from the pandemic,” stated Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. “The World Bank is committed to support the government’s pandemic response to protect lives, strengthen systems for public health preparedness, and stimulate economic recovery in Nepal.”
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 $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.