As Malawi continues to face an acute shortage of Covid vaccines, the World Bank (WB) has approved a $30 million [about K24 billion] grant in additional financing to support Malawi in the acquisition and deployment of safe, affordable and effective Covid vaccines.
The assistance has come as a huge relief to Malawi, which has seen many areas running out of the vaccine in recent days.
These are additional funds to Malawi’s existing Covid Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project, bringing WB’s contributions to the country’s health sector’s Covid response and vaccination efforts to $37 million.
In a statement on Friday, the bank says the grant will mostly go towards the procurement and deployment of eligible Covid vaccines to cover an estimated eight percent of the population by December 2023.
The additional funds would also assist in accelerating the Government of Malawi’s ongoing efforts to deploy Covid vaccines and strengthen the public health system’s preparedness.
Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said, as Malawi rolls out the second phase of vaccination which extends beyond the initially targeted group, the demand for more vaccines to reach a larger share of the population is huge.
“This financing will, therefore, help Malawi acquire and deploy safe and effective vaccines according to our National Vaccine Deployment Plan,” Kandodo Chiponda said.
The additional funds will, according to the bank, support stakeholders in strengthening surveillance and case management; vaccine procurement and deployment, including associated risk communication and demand generation; building national and sub-national capacity to prepare and respond to health emergencies; and enhancing implementation management and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
WB Country Manager Hugh Ridell said, in addition to taking a heavy toll on the welfare of people in Malawi, the Covid pandemic was unravelling hard-won economic gains and worsening inequality.
“This additional financing represents an important new contribution towards an expanded health sector response to the pandemic and builds on the World Bank’s existing health portfolio as well as the technical and financial support from key development partners in Malawi,” Ridell said.
Aligned with Malawi’s Country Partnership Framework which prioritises human capital development, this additional financing will enable the government to expand its health response and disease prevention measures and leverage technical and financial support from key development partners.