Govt seeks $100m from ADB to upgrade labs, testing facilities

FHM Humayan Kabir | March 24, 2020 Financial Express

Amid COVID-19 outbreak, the government requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Monday to provide support worth US$100 million for strengthening the country’s laboratories and testing facilities as well as health services, officials said.

They said the fund is likely to be used for setting up more institutions like Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) as well as for upgrading laboratories and testing facilities of some government hospitals for taking preparation to handle outbreak of any deadly diseases like coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) sent a request letter in this regard to the Economic Relations Division (ERD) on Monday, and forwarded a copy of the letter to the Manila-based lender’s Dhaka office, seeking the financial support, a senior government official told the FE.

“On Monday morning, we requested the ERD to seek the $100 million financial support from the ADB for responding to the COVID-19 epidemic. The ERD is likely to send the request to the ADB on the same day,” a MoH official told the FE on Monday.

When asked, an ERD official, on Monday afternoon, said: “We are working on the request. I cannot elaborate further at this moment.” Meanwhile, the Manila-based lender has created funds amounting to $6.5 billion for responding to the coronavirus outbreak in its member countries.

The MoH official said they sought the $100 million financial support from the ADB-announced $6.5 billion package.

Earlier, the MoH also sought $100 million financial support from the World Bank (WB) last week to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in Bangladesh. The official also said testing kits, PCR machines, mask, PPE (personal protective equipment), testing reagent, and sanitizer are the most prioritised things for procurement at this moment.

“We will procure these things on an emergency basis soon after getting the ADB fund.”

A good portion of the $100 million fund will be utilised to strengthen capacity of the public sector for responding to various communicable diseases in the future days in Bangladesh, the official further said.

“The ministry has a plan to set up seven more institutes like IEDCR in the seven remaining divisional cities as well as to upgrade laboratories and testing facilities in eight medical colleges and hospitals in eight divisional cities across the country.”

“In addition to its possible $100 million loan, we sought mask, PPE, testing kits, PCR machine, and other equipment from the ADB’s newly-created $2.0 million grant funds for the COVID-19 response.”

The ADB is expected to provide the emergency equipment support from the funds to its member countries to handle the coronavirus outbreak, the official added.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister A H M Mustafa Kamal in a meeting with the ADB Country Director in Bangladesh Manmohan Parkash on Saturday sought financial support for combating the deadly coronavirus attack in the country.


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