The World Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved Sh14 billion (USD 130 million) additional financing for the Kenya Covid-19 Health Emergency Response Project.
The finance will assist in facilitating affordable and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for Kenyans.
Together with the Sh1 billion (USD10 million) triggered under the Contingency Emergency Response Component of the Transforming Health Systems for Universal Care Project, the World Bank’s contributions to Kenya’s Covid-19 response will total Sh26.4 billion (USD246.43 million).
The additional financing will also enable Kenya to strengthen its health systems for a successful Covid-19 vaccine deployment.
In a press release, today, by the World Bank, the financing will be used to procure and deploy eligible Covid-19 vaccines, and expand cold chain storage capacity, including establishing 25 County vaccine stores, strengthening capacity of 36 Sub- County stores, and equipping 1,177 health facilities with vaccine storage equipment.
Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya said that the upfront financing for the acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines will enable the government to expand access to more Kenyans free of cost.
“This additional financing comes at a critical time when the government of Kenya is making concerted efforts to contain the rising cases of Covid-19 infections and accelerate the deployment of the vaccines to a wider population,” he said.
The vaccines, he added, will be procured via the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), initiative and the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facilities.
Other activities that will be funded include vaccine safety surveillance activities; health worker training; and Covid-19 vaccine advocacy, communication, and social mobilization.
Jane Chuma, Senior Health Economist and Task Team Leader said that with the increased support for a rapid Covid-19 response, the World Bank is offering the government a flexible approach to select a portfolio of vaccines that best suits local capacities, timings of delivery, and vaccine approvals.
“This support complements the Government of Kenya’s own resources and support from the COVAX facility”, she added, saying this is the second additional financing for the Kenya Covid-19 Health Emergency Response Project.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has committed over Sh13.5 trillion (USD 125 billion) worldwide to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history.
The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery.
The World Bank is also providing Sh1.2 trillion (USD12 billion) to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.
By Wangari Ndirangu