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(Photo: WIC News)

World Bank loans to improve health systems in the Eastern Caribbean

(Photo: WIC News)

The World Bank will provide loan financing that will support health sector projects in four Eastern Caribbean countries.

Last week the bank’s board of executive directors approved the disbursement of US$15 million to Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines through the International Development Association.

“A strong health sector is essential to save lives and build countries’ resilience.”

— World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean Tahseen Sayed

The loans are a new round of financing for the countries, which previously used funds from the World Bank to support their immediate emergency response efforts to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“The World Bank provided speedy financing to Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by allocating resources from existing health projects to fast-track procurement of essential medical equipment and to strengthen medical facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Tahseen Sayed, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean Tahseen Sayed (File photo)

 “A strong health sector is essential to save lives and build countries’ resilience. The additional financing ensures that important health projects receive quick replenishment of funds to continue their activities and accomplish project objectives,” she continued.

With this new round of financing, the World Bank aims to improve the preparedness capacities of health systems for public health emergencies in Dominica, Grenada, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, as part of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Regional Health Project.

The flag of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (File photo)

Dominica will receive US$3 million, Grenada US$2.5 million, and St Vincent and the Grenadines US$4.5 million.

At the same time, the World Bank will allocate US$5 million to St Lucia’s Health System Strengthening Project, which aims to support improved accessibility, efficiency, and responsiveness of key health services.

Castries, St Lucia (File photo)

These projects had released funds to support national responses to COVID-19 using their Contingent Emergency Response Components (CERCs). CERCs allow funds to be reallocated rapidly from existing projects and used for emergency response activities.

The World Bank Group said it is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their pandemic response.

“We are increasing disease surveillance, improving public health interventions, and helping the private sector continue to operate and sustain jobs. Over the next 15 months, we will be deploying up to US$160 billion in financial support to help countries protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery, including US$50 billion of new IDA resources in grants or highly concessional terms,” the global institution said.