MANILA, PHILIPPINES (8 October 2021) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $30 million in financing to help strengthen Cambodia’s health system amid a surge in new infections and sustained community transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The assistance includes a $25 million loan as additional financing for the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Health Security Project. It will boost laboratory services and infection prevention control at 81 provincial and district referral hospitals across the country. It will improve disease surveillance and response systems; COVID-19 outbreak management; and contact tracing at central, provincial, and district health agencies.

ADB will also administer a $5 million grant from the Government of Japan’s Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to improve emergency care at 14 provincial hospitals. This includes funding for new equipment such as ambulances, oxygen plants, and oxygen therapy devices, as well as health staff training in COVID-19 clinical care.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a tremendous stress on the Cambodian economy and threatens to reverse gains in poverty reduction and human development,” said ADB Senior Social Sector Specialist Rikard Elfving. “The project will strengthen the public health system in preventing, detecting, and responding to COVID-19 and other emerging public health threats, mitigating health and social impacts and indirectly contributing to poverty reduction.”

Cambodia managed to keep COVID-19 cases relatively low in 2020, but the situation has worsened since February 2021. As of 5 October 2021, Cambodia had recorded 113,475 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,406 deaths. The government has prioritized vaccination, administering 22.2 million doses as of 23 September 2021.

Given the threat posed by highly contagious variants of the virus, the project’s support to strengthen surveillance, outbreak response, and health service provision is timely. The project will address social issues stemming from the pandemic, including training hospital staff to identify and support people affected by gender-based violence and mental health issues.

The project follows ADB’s 2019–2023 country partnership strategy for Cambodia, which prioritizes strengthening human capital. It will contribute to the collective goal of the GMS countries to improve their response to acute public health threats.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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