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The World Bank has approved an additional $23.8 million in funding for Tunisia’s COVID-19 Response Project, which aims to strengthen the country’s health system in advance of public health emergencies.

The 2nd round of funding will strengthen clinical, surgical, and emergency care capacity with a $22 million loan and a $1.8 million grant. The reduction of severe cases will aid Tunisia’s recovery from COVID-19. The additional funds will be used to purchase medical devices and provide technical help to strengthen the health system’s resilience.

“As the pandemic hit Tunisia, the World Bank acted quickly and closely with organizations to support the Government’s social, health, and financial measures so that the crisis can be overcome and economy could restart on solid foundations,” said  the World Bank Tunisia Country Manager- Alexandre Arrobbio.   “Strengthening Tunisia’s health system’s capacity will assist the country in combating the disease outbreak and its consequences, strengthening human resources, and constructing an inclusive and sustainable development recovery.”

Despite being one of the areas most affected by COVID-19 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Tunisia has achieved a 54 percent national vaccination rate (68 percent for the targeted population of people over the age of 12). This is among the region’s highest rates in the Middle East and North Africa. Furthermore, since the start of the pandemic, testing and hospital capacity have been significantly increased. The World Bank has contributed to these efforts by funding a $20 million project to purchase PPE (personal protective equipment) in 2020, as well as a $100 million new financing accepted in 2021 to fund vaccine deployment and procurement to cover more than half of its population.

Despite these gains, the pandemic is still putting a strain on Tunisia’s healthcare system, and the country is still vulnerable to potential health shocks due to the high incidence of chronic diseases. This 2nd round of funding will help Tunisia improve its health-care system capabilities, lowering the country’s future COVID-19 burden and improving the country’s ability to deal with potential health challenges.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the World Bank’s help to Tunisia focuses on assisting the health ministry’s emergency response as well as the government’s broader economic and social efforts, such as strengthening safety net programs, assisting medium and small-sized businesses, and promoting economic recovery. Over the last two years, the World Bank has granted nearly $1 billion to Tunisia through additional funds and portfolio restructuring.

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