YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — The World Bank said Monday it has approved $50 million in emergency financing to help Myanmar improve its hospital system to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
The bank’s office in Myanmar said in a statement that the credit would be used mostly to increase the capacity of intensive care units at selected hospitals and to build the skills of hospital staff and officials, in addition to promoting community engagement.
Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia and its public health infrastructure is considered weak.
The World Bank said the project will cover eight central hospitals and 43 regional and state hospitals around the country, starting with those in areas considered most at risk, such as densely populated areas and places serving as travel hubs.
The financing for the Myanmar project is the latest in series of fast-track measures initiated by the bank earlier this month to deal with the pandemic.
The first group of projects, totaling $1.9 billion, was to assist 25 countries in the developing world, while the bank prepared packages for 40 more.
In an April 2 announcement, the bank said it was “working worldwide to redeploy resources in existing World Bank-financed projects worth up to $1.7 billion.”
“The World Bank Group is prepared to deploy up to $160 billion over the next 15 months to support COVID-19 measures that will help countries respond to immediate health consequences of the pandemic and bolster economic recovery,” it said. “The broader economic program will aim to shorten the time to recovery, create conditions for growth, support small and medium enterprises, and help protect the poor and vulnerable.”
The statement Monday said that funds for an ongoing World Bank-financed Myanmar Essential Health Services Access Project supporting 12,000 primary health care facilities across the country were also being directed to assist capacity building and operational costs “to intensify surveillance and testing activities in all states and regions, establish a functioning information and reporting system for all suspected cases” and facilitate the flow of information among health professionals and the public.