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The Bahamas (File photo)

The Bahamas to improve COVID-19 response with loan from IDB

The Bahamas (File photo)

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently approved the disbursement of a US$20-million loan to finance a project that will help reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by the COVID-19 and to mitigate its impacts in The Bahamas.

According to the IDB, “The project will strengthen response leadership at the country level, improve case detection and monitoring, support initiatives to break the illness’s transmission chain, and improve service delivery capacity.”

To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has compromised the delivery of health services in the island chain by worsening health personnel shortages and exposing limitations in infrastructure such as the scarcity of medical equipment. As such the IDB has identified that there is a critical need for additional health personnel, technical and physical resources.

“The project will strengthen response leadership at the country level, improve case detection and monitoring, support initiatives to break the illness’s transmission chain, and improve service delivery capacity”

Moreover, as the country begins preparation for the roll-out of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategic Plan, the need for resources becomes even more acute.

Addressing the challenges

To this end, the IDB-funded project will have four components to address these challenges.

“The first component will strengthen response leadership at the country level by enhancing its decision-making capabilities, surveillance, assessment, public health management, and multisectoral coordination. The second component will finance the expansion of the health system’s capacity for screening, case detection, contact tracing, reporting, and monitoring of COVID-19 cases,” the bank explained in a press release.

The façade of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, United States. (File photo)

“The third component will finance access to vaccines, which entails supporting the National Covid-19 Vaccination strategic Plan and purchasing the doses. It will also fund the design and implementation of a public communications campaign, the update of care protocols, and the strengthening of epidemiological surveillance at entry points. Finally, the fourth component will support bolstering the COVID-19 case management capacity and the continuity of essential care services during the emergency,” it said in addition.

Vaccination and surveillance

Ultimately, the project sets out to strengthen The Bahamas’ Emergency Operations Committee and its preparedness and response plan. It also will reinforce the capacity of laboratories to diagnose COVID-19 and support the COVID-19 vaccine plan deployment to reach the target to vaccinate the prioritised groups.

At the country’s entry points, the project will improve the capacity to perform epidemiological surveillance, as well as health facilities’ capability to triage patients, isolate cases, and manage confirmed cases according to national protocols.