AKIPRESS.COM - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a further grant to Mongolia of $1.5 million from the Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund (APDRF) to boost medical responses to the threat posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The financial assistance is sourced from the Government of Japan’s contribution to APDRF.
“Mongolia’s comprehensive response to the global COVID-19 pandemic has spared it from the public health crisis faced elsewhere in the world,” said ADB Country Director in Mongolia Pavit Ramachandran. “But with the economy under strain and resources for health care stretched thin, ADB’s grant funds will help meet urgent needs and deliver medical services, including reagents, diagnostic kits, pharmaceutical products, and personal protective equipment.”
The country has managed to avoid community transmission of COVID-19 through aggressive contact tracing and strict quarantine protocols. This will be increasingly hard to sustain due to the negative economic spillovers of these policies, combined with the current economic situation. The lockdown has left the economy in deep recession, contracting by 9.7% in the first half of 2020 with all the major forecasters expecting negative growth for the full year.
Sterile and decontaminated isolation wards and intensive care services, which are critical for treating COVID-19 patients, are particularly limited. If the current global situation continues to worsen, the health sector will face more challenges to ensure preparedness against the pandemic and improve facilities.
The grant will complement ongoing ADB support to Mongolia for its COVID-19 response. ADB provided in May $100 million under the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Option (CPRO) to support overall financing needs in the face of the economic contraction and specifically help finance the budgetary measures to respond to the impact of COVID-19. The CPRO is part of a comprehensive $20 billion package of support established by ADB in April.
ADB also provided a loan of $30 million under the Fifth Health Sector Development Program for the construction of an emergency warehouse, upgrading sterilization departments in tertiary and secondary hospitals. In addition, ADB provided $26.4 million under the Shock Responsive Social Protection Program to support an expansion of benefits under the Food Stamps and Child Money Programs.
Other assistance includes a $1 million grant from APDRF in March for essential medical equipment, and grants for frontline medical workers. Technical assistance (TA) support has focused on capacity building in incident management systems, and infection prevention and control; another TA addressed domestic violence during the COVID-19 crisis; and a third TA has been managing food insecurity in Mongolia.
ADB is planning a further $70 million to Mongolia to support increased social protection and an additional $100 million in policy-based lending to support an expanded budgetary response and strengthen response measures and efficiency in the health sector.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.