NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a US $20 million loan to the government of The Bahamas to acquire the COVID-19 vaccine and help develop the infrastructure around its distribution, its president said yesterday.
The project is intended to strengthen response leadership at the country level, improve case detection and monitoring, support initiatives to break the illness’s transmission chain and improve service delivery capacity. The IDB recently announced that it will mobilize $1 billion to help Latin American and Caribbean countries acquire and distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
Speaking on the project, IDB president Mauricio Claver-Carone said: “This will facilitate access to the vaccine, it will also create an executing agency for it that is going to strengthen the Ministry of Health.”
“Of that $20 million, $4.5 million is to be directly allocated to the purchase of the vaccine and the remainder will go towards the infrastructure surrounding its distribution. We feel very confident. We have been working very closely with the Bahamian authorities in order to execute this plan. We don’t want it to be reactive, we want to be proactive,” said Claver-Carone.
He further noted that The Bahamas is one of its strongest partners in this endeavor, adding that if more funding is required, the IDB is willing to be flexible and provide additional funding.
The US$20 million loan will be executed during a two-year period, with an amortization period of 25 years and an interest rate based on LIBOR.
The project has four components. The first component will strengthen response leadership at the country level by enhancing its decision-making capabilities, surveillance, assessment, public health management, and multisectoral coordination.
The second component will finance the expansion of the health system’s capacity for screening, case detection, contact tracing, reporting, and monitoring of COVID-19 cases.
The third component will finance access to vaccines, which entails supporting the National Covid-19 Vaccination strategic Plan and purchasing the doses. It will also fund the design and implementation of a public communications campaign, the update of care protocols, and the strengthening of epidemiological surveillance at entry points.
The fourth component will support bolstering the COVID-19 case management capacity and the continuity of essential care services during the emergency.
Claver-Carone noted that the projection execution unit could be in place in The Bahamas at the end of the first quarter of 2021.
“We want to make sure that those needs are met and The Bahamas can reactivate its economy,” said Claver-Carone.
The Bahamas is a part of the COVAX Facility convened by Gavi, CEPI and the WHO, which will afford countries in the region the best opportunity to fast-track access to COVID-19 vaccines. The COVAX Facility offers access to a basket of 15 possible vaccines. Claver-Cavone noted that the IDB has been working with the COVAX facility and the Pan-American Health Organization to ensure The Bahamas gets the vaccine.