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$113 million financing will help vaccinate more than 17 percent of Afghans 

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved $60 million from the International Development Association (IDA) to help the Afghan government purchase and deploy safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and strengthen its national program to ensure quick and fair access to health services and vaccinations.

The total additional financing of $113 million to the Afghanistan's COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project also includes a $50 million grant from the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) and a $3 million grant from the Energy Sector Management Program (ESMAP). The funding package will help vaccinate more than 17 percent of Afghans, improve essential medical services, and support Afghanistan's recovery from the pandemic.

"The World Bank has worked closely with the Afghan government and development partners to respond effectively to COVID-19, improve testing and treatment, and strengthen the country's health system," said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan. "This additional financing is a major step forward to provide timely and equitable access to vaccines to millions of Afghans."

Afghanistan's overall COVID-19 vaccination efforts include an agreement with COVAX to vaccinate 20 percent of Afghans and further support from the Asian Development Bank' is expected to purchase vaccines for nearly 11 percent of the Afghan people. This together with the World Bank's additional financing package will take Afghanistan's vaccination coverage to almost half of the population. The Government of Afghanistan will deploy its national COVID-19 vaccination through the existing Sehatmandi program. 

Afghanistan's COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project was approved on April 2, 2020, with a funding of $100.4 million to help Afghanistan take effective action to respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 and strengthen its public health preparedness. Accordingly, the World Bank is working with the Government and other partners to further strengthen the national program in multiple ways, including communications, hiring additional vaccinators, enhanced transparency, and monitoring, and ensuring access to hard-to-reach areas.

This $113 million funding package for Afghanistan is one of three projects in a first phase of support for the COVID-19 vaccination effort across the South Asia region. Today, the World Bank Board also approved additional financing from IDA of $500 million for Bangladesh and $75 million for Nepal. In addition to financing, the Bank is providing technical assistance and knowledge-sharing workshops for countries in South Asia on different aspects of designing and deploying fair and equitable vaccine strategies.

The World Bank, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries, is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries respond to the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19. This includes $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments, and strengthen vaccination systems. The financing builds on the broader World Bank Group COVID-19 response, which is helping more than 100 countries strengthen health systems, support the poorest households, and create supportive conditions to maintain livelihoods and jobs for those hit hardest.

This story was originally published as a press release here.