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ADB approves $125m loan to help boost Philippines' COVID-19 response

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-08-25 09:24
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A health worker gets her temperature checked before getting a COVID-19 swab test in a tent set up in a hospital parking lot in Manila, Philippines, April 15, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

MANILA - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Tuesday it has approved a 125-million-US dollar loan to help the Philippine government improve its capacity to prevent and control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Manila-based bank said the Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit (HEAL) COVID-19 project will enable the Department of Health (DOH) to improve health services across the country through the upgrading of medical equipment and related training.

"This project will help improve the preparedness and resilience of the country's health systems at the national and local levels in handling current and future public health threats." ADB Vice-President Ahmed Saeed said, adding "it will also contribute to the Philippines' efforts toward implementing universal health coverage."

ADB Principal Social Sector Specialist for Southeast Asia Sakiko Tanaka said, "The project will help the government scale up its ability to conduct COVID-19 tests, surveillance, and infection prevention and control, and provide critical care equipment to improve treatment outcomes."

According to the ADB, the government is seeking to more than double the daily COVID-19 testing capacity to 75,000 by the end of the year, compared with nearly 31,000 as of Aug. 15.

The ADB added the project complements an ADB grant to the DOH, which was approved on March 14 to build a pandemic subnational reference laboratory in the Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga, north of Manila, with a daily output of 3,000 COVID-19 tests. The lab has been running since May 2020.

The Philippines now has 194,252 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 3,010 deaths and 132,042 recoveries.

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