World Bank approves Sh14bn loan for Covid-19 vaccines

Covid vaccination

Other activities that will be funded by the loan include vaccine safety surveillance, training for health workers, and advocacy to encourage Covid-19 vaccine uptake.

Photo credit: Ebrahim Hamid | AFP

The World Bank has approved an additional Sh14 billion ($130 million) to enable Kenya procure more Covid-19 vaccines. 

The lender said on Tuesday that its Board of Executive Directors had approved the additional financing for the Kenya Covid-19 Health Emergency Response Project to facilitate affordable and equitable access to vaccines for Kenyans.

It said the funds will enable Kenya to procure more jabs via the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (Avatt) initiative and the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facilities.

It will also support the deployment of vaccines to Kenyans by boosting the country's cold chain storage capacity - including establishing 25 county vaccine stores, strengthening the capacity of 36 sub-county stores, and equipping 1,177 health facilities with vaccine storage equipment.

“This additional financing comes at a critical time when the Government of Kenya is making concerted efforts to contain the rising cases of Covid-19 infections and accelerate the deployment of vaccines to a wider population,” said Keith Hansen, World Bank Country Director for Kenya. 

“The upfront financing for the acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines will enable the government to expand access to more Kenyans free of cost.”

Other activities that will be funded include vaccine safety surveillance, training for health workers, and advocacy and communications activities to encourage Covid-19 vaccine uptake.

“With the increased support for a rapid Covid-19 response, the World Bank is offering the government a flexible approach to select a portfolio of vaccines that best suits local capacities, timings of delivery, and vaccine approvals,” said Jane Chuma, World Bank Senior Health Economist.

Second tranche

This is the second additional financing for the Kenya Covid-19 Health Emergency Response Project. Together with the Sh1 billion ($10 million) triggered under the Contingency Emergency Response Component of the Transforming Health Systems for Universal Care Project, the World Bank’s contributions to Kenya’s Covid-19 response now adds to Sh26.3 billion ($246 million).

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani revealed in March that Kenya had asked the World Bank for a Sh5 billion concessionary loan to finance the Covid-19 vaccination budget.

He said the total Covid-19 vaccines would cost Sh34 billion. The budget will be split into three, with the first Sh20 billion being a grant from Gavi, a global Vaccine Alliance established in 2000. 

Another Sh9 billion will come from taxpayers through internal sources, while the remaining Sh5 billion will come from the World Bank.  

"We have a Sh34 billion budget, Sh20 billion is secured and Sh14 billion is what we need to grapple with. We are at the tail end of securing Sh5 billion from the World Bank. This request has already gone to the World Bank board, so we are actually getting it," Yatani said.  

This means that Kenya now has the Sh14 billion to close the financing gap. 

The Treasury boss said the loan will come at concessionary rates of about one per cent, and is part of a global package set aside the World Bank to finance vaccines. 

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank Group has committed over $125 billion worldwide to fight the health, economic, and social impacts of the pandemic, the fastest and largest crisis response in its history. 

The financing is helping more than 100 countries strengthen pandemic preparedness, protect the poor and jobs, and jump start a climate-friendly recovery. The World Bank is also providing $12 billion to help low- and middle-income countries purchase and distribute Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.

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