World Bank To Release $200m For Ghana’s COVID-19 Vaccines
The World Bank Group (WBG) will release $200 million into the country’s account this month to be used to procure COVID-19 vaccines.
The amount will also finance the deployment of the doses to combat the spread of the pandemic as well as mitigate its impact on lives.
The planned release of the funds follows the signing of a loan agreement between the country and the International Development Association (IDA) of the bank at a ceremony in Accra yesterday for financial support to enhance the country’s fight against the pandemic.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, signed on behalf of the country while the Country Director of the WBG, Mr Pierre Laporte, initialed for the World Bank.
The facility is a 30-year loan and will attract a 0.5 per cent interest rate and a service charge of 1.7 per cent.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the loan was one of the cheapest in the market and would be used to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19, as well as strengthen national systems for public health preparedness across the country.
He said the funds would go a long way to boost the implementation of a robust COVID-19 vaccination programme, strengthen the country’s health system for large-scale vaccines deployment and widen both the scale and scope of ongoing social welfare protection programmes.
The finance minister said the latest support brought to $430 million, the total amount of loans that the country had accessed from the WBG to enhance its fight against COVID-19, following its outbreak in Ghana in March last year.
Mr Ofori-Atta said following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government accessed $100 million from the bank that was used to support the government’s fight against the disease as well as finance the ongoing Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development (GARID) project.
He said an additional $130 million was secured from the bank in April and November 2020 to support the implementation of the COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan.
The minister expressed his profound gratitude to the World Bank for its continued support towards realising President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of using the pandemic to create a modernised, competitive and resilient economy where citizens could hope, aspire and reach their fullest potential.
“As we advance, I hope to see additional collaborations, partnerships and substantial resources from the World Bank towards implementing policy initiatives under the Ghana CARES programme, specifically, targeted support towards enhancing food security, developing local manufacturing capabilities and optimising ongoing flagships and strategic programmes,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.
Mr Laporte said the bank was satisfied with the usage of earlier funds granted the country to enhance the national fight against the pandemic.
He said so far the bank had not had any concerns regarding the usage of its funds and pledged to work closer with the country to combat the virus.
Mr Laporte commended the government for rolling out an effective programme on vaccines that resulted in the speedy deployment of the doses to people, saying Ghana stood out among its peers.
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, who was also present at the signing ceremony, encouraged Ghanaians to diligently follow the COVID-19 protocols to help reduce infection and the toll that the virus was having on the economy.
He said although the government would do all it took to procure sufficient vaccines to achieve herd immunity, it was also pertinent for the citizens to protect themselves as the first defence against the deadly disease.
“Until the vaccine gets into your shoulder, we are not resting. Ghana has shown that it has the ability to deplore vaccines speedily and with the support from the WBG and other international institutions, we can procure enough to protect the citizens and the economy against the pandemic,” Dr Kuma-Aboagye said.
He also advised the government to give priority to health sector investments in the push to revive the economy.
The DG said the pandemic had shown that the health sector should no longer be treated as a consuming sector but as one that could provide the necessary stability for the recovery and growth of the economy.
Story By Graphic Online