New Delhi :The World Bank approved US$23.8 million in additional financing for the Tunisia COVID-19 Response Project, focusing on strengthening the country’s health system for public health preparedness.
The second round of additional financing, which includes a loan of US$22 million and a grant of US$1.8 million, will further strengthen clinical, emergency, and surgical care capacity. This will contribute to Tunisia’s recovery from COVID-19 through reducing the burden of severe COVID-19 cases. The additional resources will support the purchase of medical equipment and provision of technical assistance to improve the resiliency of the health system.
“As soon as the pandemic began in Tunisia, the World Bank Group acted swiftly and in close collaboration with partners, to support the Government’s health, social and economic measures, to help overcome this crisis and revive the economy on solid foundations.” said Alexandre Arrobbio, World Bank Tunisia Country Manager. “Strengthening the capacity of the Tunisian health system will help the country as it continues to combat the pandemic and its impacts, strengthen human capital, and build a sustainable and inclusive development recovery.”
While Tunisia was one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, it has reached a full vaccination rate of 54% of the national population (68% for the target population of above 12 years of age) to date. This accounts for one of the highest among countries in the MENA region. In addition, testing and hospital capacity has been scaled up significantly since the beginning of the pandemic. These efforts have been supported by the World Bank through the US$20 million project approved in 2020, which supported the purchase of personal protective equipment, and the US$100 million additional financing approved in 2021, which has supported the procurement and deployment of vaccines to cover over 50% of the population.
However, despite this progress, the pandemic continues to put a burden on the Tunisian health system, and Tunisia remains vulnerable to future health shocks given the high prevalence of chronic diseases. This second additional financing will help enable Tunisia to further strengthen its health system capacity and resilience, reducing the future burden of severe COVID-19 and improving its ability to withstand future health challenges.
The World Bank’s assistance to Tunisia during the COVID-19 crisis focuses on supporting the health ministry’s emergency response and the government’s broader social and economic efforts, including strengthening social safety nets, helping small and medium-size enterprises, and creating the conditions for economic recovery. Overall, the World Bank has made nearly US$1 billion available to Tunisia over the past two years, through using new funds and restructuring its portfolio.