MONROVIA, Montserrado – In the wake of a third COVID-19 wave in Liberia, which is seeing a significantly higher spike in new cases and deaths than the first two waves, the World Bank has approved additional financing to the Liberia COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project.
A June 30 press release said the new financing enables the country affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. One of the goals of the financing deal is for approximately 386,000 people to be vaccinated.
The US$8 million grant includes US$7 million from the International Development Association and US$1 million from the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Multi-Donor Trust and will support the purchase of the vaccines and their deployment.
The press release said the funding would also help strengthen systems of vaccination programs more broadly and support other COVID-19 response activities in the country.
“In the wake of a third COVID-19 wave that is more devastating than the first two, we believe that ramping up the vaccination program in Liberia, as in other countries, will be a game-changer,” the release quoted Dr. Khwima Nthara, the World Bank country manager for Liberia.
Nthara said he hoped people would take full advantage of the opportunity and get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones.
The press release emphasized that the additional financing has become necessary given the evidence from the West on the impact of vaccines on disease transmission and bringing the COVID-19 situation back to normal.
“The Bank-financed vaccines will contribute to increasing the number of Liberians covered by vaccines,” it noted.
The project will support the rollout of the vaccines to the last mile and interventions started under a previous Liberia COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project.
That original project was approved on April 9, 2020. For that project, the World Bank supported Liberia’s purchase of 10 ambulances, 20 ventilators, 120 motorcycles, diagnostic laboratory equipment, and other activities to implement COVID-19 preventive measures across the country.
After an initially slow start in vaccination, demand has increased, as more deaths are reported in communities, even if the Health Ministry is not reporting them as COVID-related deaths. A Health Ministry employee who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak to the press said a total of 84,926 persons had received a first dose of the vaccine. Only 5,643 persons have gotten a second dose to complete the vaccination program.
Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah