By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
ZAMBIA is among the 51 African countries benefiting from the World Bank’s US$4 billion meant for purchasing of Covid-19 vaccines.
The World Bank announced recently that it is providing over US$4 billion for the purchase and deployment of Covid-19 vaccines for 51 developing countries, half of which are in Africa.
Other countries are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Comoros, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo and the Kyrgyz Republic.
Others are Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, São Tomé e Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen.
More than half of the financing comes from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s poorest countries, and is on grant or highly concessional terms.
This financing is part of the commitment to help low- and middle-income countries acquire and distribute vaccines and strengthen their health systems.
World Bank Managing Director of Operations, Axel van Trotsenburg, said significant challenges still remained regarding vaccine deployment and hesitancy.
Mr Trotsenburg said the World Bank was helping developing countries in every region of the world with vaccine purchase and rollout.
The Bank’s vaccine finance package is designed to be flexible. It can be used by countries to acquire doses through COVAX, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT) or other sources.
It also finances vaccine deployment and health system strengthening, such as vaccine cold-chains, training health workers, data and information systems, and communications and outreach campaigns to key stakeholders which are crucial to ensure vaccination acceptance.
The World Bank has aligned its eligibility criteria for Covid-19 vaccines with the revised eligibility criteria of COVAX and other multilateral partners.