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World Bank urges Zambia to scale up COVID-19 prevention measures

WORLD Bank country manager for Zambia Sahr Kpundeh says while Zambia has seen a reduction in new cases of COVID-19 in the last two months, it is important that prevention, detection and response measures are scaled up to prevent further spread of the disease.

The World Bank has approved $25 million to support Zambia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of this amount, $20 million will come from the International Development Association’s Crisis Response Window, while $5 million is grant funding from the Global Financing Facility.

According to a statement, the funds will be channelled through the Zambia COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project.

It stated that the Zambia COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project would provide support to the Zambian government to prevent, control, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness.

It stated that the emergency funding would support disease surveillance and strengthen screening at points of entry, risk communication and community engagement, as well as strengthen governance and accountability in implementation of the national COVID-19 response plan.

It stated that it would also support COVID-19 case management, infection prevention and control, and interventions to maintain essential health services.

“While Zambia has seen a reduction in new cases of COVID-19 in the last two months, it is important that prevention, detection and response measures are scaled up to prevent further spread of the disease,” said Kpundeh. “Rapid response is crucial in addressing COVID-19 and to reduce its negative impact on health systems, social services and economic activities.”

The Bank said the project would be implemented nationwide and is expected to benefit the entire population of Zambia, as COVID-19 poses a risk to everyone.

Primary beneficiaries will be suspected and confirmed Covid cases, and populations at risk such as the elderly, people with co-morbidities, medical and emergency personnel, port of entry officials and truck drivers.

“Considering that many of the COVID-19 cases in Zambia have come from outside the country, the project will help strengthen screening at Zambia’s entry points,” said Rosemary Sunkutu, senior health nutrition and population specialist and task team leader of the project. “This component of the project is especially important given that Zambia is a landlocked country surrounded by eight countries, which predisposes the country to risks of importation of diseases from neighbouring countries and beyond.”

This funding is part of a broader package of support by the World Bank Group to help Zambia manage and respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The World Bank mobilised $2.72 million from existing health operations and financing mechanisms to support the government’s COVID-19 response.

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