The Asian Development Bank said Monday it approved a $250-million (about P12.5 billion) loan to help the Philippine government secure additional COVID-19 vaccine supply, boost the health security of Filipinos and ensure a safe and steady economic recovery.
It said in a statement the loan would allow the government to purchase 40 million additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines for eligible children and booster shots for adults.
“The Philippines has continuously enhanced its capacities for testing, tracing, isolating, and treating COVID-19 cases and vigorously pursued COVID-19 inoculation for its population,” ADB principal social sector specialist for Southeast Asia Sakiko Tanaka said.
“ADB is supporting the government’s drive to provide vaccines to protect its citizens and save lives, especially with the emergence of new COVID-19 variants,” Tanaka said.
“Vaccination will allow the health system to better manage the effects of the virus and will help sustain economic recovery. It is key to the country’s full recovery from the pandemic,” Tanaka said.
The project, the Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 under the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility Additional Financing, will be co-financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
The new assistance builds on ADB’s active support for the country’s overall COVID-19 health response and its universal health care program.
Under the amended HEAL facility approved in January 2021, ADB provided advance payments for vaccines and purchases of micro-syringes and other vaccine-related items.
It also financed investments in health infrastructure to complement vaccine financing such as the upgrading of laboratories and construction of isolation facilities.
Through HEAL2, approved in March 2021, ADB helped purchase 85.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through bilateral agreements, with 81 percent of the supply delivered as of Dec. 2, 2021.
This made up about half of the country’s vaccine supply as of Dec. 2, 2021. More than 98 percent of the funds from HEAL2 were committed for vaccine supply contracts as of Dec. 6, 2021.
These supply contracts helped the government expand its national COVID-19 vaccination program. As of Dec. 8,, more than 57 million Filipinos, or nearly 65 percent of the Philippines’ target population, were vaccinated with at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The ADB said that on Nov. 19, 2021, it approved the $600-million Build Universal Health Care Program to ensure equitable access to quality health services and financial protection for all Filipinos. Aside from vaccine financing, ADB said it would continue to provide technical support to the government on health information systems, logistics, procurement, gender and environmental issues related to medical waste.