World Bank Pledges $12 Billion In Coronavirus Aid For Poor Countries

World Bank is worried that places like Africa, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are ill-equipped to handle the coronavirus emergency.


The World Bank is providing $12 billion in emergency grants and assistance to help developing countries respond to the coronavirus crisis.

The aid package, announced Wednesday, comes as the virus has spread to more than 60 countries and topped 94,000 cases and 3,000 deaths. More than 80,000 cases are in China

In addition to severe quarantine measures, China has mobilized the resources of its advanced economy and medical system to combat the virus and reduce the rate of new infections.

But the World Bank is worried about places like Africa, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. It says poor countries, with limited public health resources, are at particular risk.  

The World Bank says it's providing an infusion of cash, financing and global expertise to help. Its president, David Malpass, said: "We are working to provide a fast, flexible response based on developing country needs."

Dr. John Nkengasong is the director for the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. He said health systems on the continent are ill-equipped for a virus spread like China has had. 

"We have to scale up our ability to train many people quickly on infection prevention control to enhance the screening of our ports of entry as quickly as possible to cascade the diagnostics into the country so that our strategy continues to be rapid detection and rapid containment, because there's no way our health systems will be rapidly improved to be able to cope with a large outbreak like what we are seeing in China,” Nkengasong said.

The World Bank says it will "fast track" $8 billion in new aid and reallocate $4 billion from other programs for coronavirus detection and treatment programs in developing countries.

Malpass, the World Bank president, told reporters: "The point is to move fast. Speed is needed to save lives."