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Coronavirus: A $ 48 million loan from the World Bank to Morocco

The World Bank approved on Tuesday a $ 48 million loan to support Morocco in its management of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic following strict containment measures.

“This loan is part of a financing approved in 2015 in the form of a results-oriented program and intended to support primary health services”, the international financial institution said in a statement. Through a project restructuring exercise, an envelope of $ 13.01 million in funding not yet disbursed under this program will be supplemented by an additional $ 35 million allocated by the accelerated assistance mechanism put in place by the Group of the World Bank in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These funds will support the public health response by strengthening prevention, detection, surveillance and case management, it is said.

“The government has already taken significant measures to counter the epidemic and mitigate its impact on vulnerable sectors and households”, underlines the director of operations of the World Bank for the Maghreb, Jesko Hentschel, for which the Kingdom enters present in a delicate phase which will require the pursuit of significant efforts to contain the epidemic and mobilize resources to finance the health response. “This funding is intended to provide additional resources that will allow Morocco to improve its testing capabilities and put in place solutions to prevent the spread of the virus.” According to the World Bank press release, the restructuring widens the scope of the Primary Health Program by including a component dedicated to the response to the coronavirus. This program will amplify the budget prioritization efforts of the Ministry of Health during this crisis and strengthen the preparation of hospitals for health emergencies.

The approved envelope will support the purchase of drugs, equipment and medical products. It will also finance the acquisition of technical and medical equipment for laboratories and hospitals accredited for the management of COVID-19 cases, while developing testing capacities and case management. “In this critical phase, the country will have to carry out mass screening in order to quickly level the curve of the epidemic and thus allow the reopening of the economy,” notes the international financial institution. By strengthening epidemiological surveillance systems, the program aims to couple the detection of new cases with active monitoring of contacts, which constitutes priority measures in the context of post-containment, specifies Fatima El Kadiri, specialist in health and co-responsible for the project. In addition, the World Bank loan will provide additional resources for equipment and training for health workers.

The World Bank has put forward the approach adopted by Morocco to fight the coronavirus pandemic, enabling it today to display one of the “lowest lethality rates in the world” and a cure rate of 90 pc, noting the commitment of the public authorities to “continue to ensure rigorous monitoring of the situation by means of increased testing capacity”.

“Today, more than three months after the start of the crisis, Morocco has one of the lowest fatality rates (number of deaths compared to the total number of infections) in the world (less than 2.6 %), while 90% of cases are cured”, noted the international financial institution in an analysis published on its website.

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