MANILA, PHILIPPINES (20 April 2021) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today approved a $50 million grant to help the Government of Afghanistan procure and deploy safe, high-quality COVID-19 vaccines, and strengthen the country’s capacity to implement its vaccine program.

The project will support the National Plan for COVID-19 Vaccination in Afghanistan by procuring and transporting 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for priority segments of the population, as determined by the government. The project is financed by ADB’s $9 billion Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility launched in December 2020 to offer rapid and equitable vaccine-related support to ADB developing member countries.

“As Afghanistan continues to grapple with COVID-19, this project will help ensure that safe and high-quality vaccines are made available to the Afghan people,” said ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa. “Making vaccines available to vulnerable groups and strengthening Afghanistan’s immunization program will help to save lives and is a vital step toward recovery. This support is part of ADB’s strong commitment to helping Afghanistan overcome the pandemic and achieve a sustainable economic recovery.”

Under its national plan, the government aims to vaccinate all eligible people including vulnerable groups, approximately 60% of the total population. ADB’s COVID-19 Vaccine Support Project will provide financing to procure vaccines for at least 2.6 million people, or about 11% of the eligible population, including through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Advance Market Commitment facility.

The grant will also strengthen the Ministry of Public Health’s capacity in planning, communications, coordination, and implementation of the vaccine program at national and provincial levels. Technical training including specialized gender sessions will ensure that vaccines are administered to women in a culturally sensitive manner. A waste management firm will be engaged to build capacity for proper disposal of medical waste.

ADB estimates that Afghanistan’s GDP contracted by 5% in 2020 as the pandemic forced business closures and disrupted supply chains. Unemployment is projected to have risen from 23.9% in 2019 to 37.9% in 2020 adding to the negative pressures of increased costs of food, housing, and health services.

ADB’s grant complements other development partners’ efforts and contributes to fostering growth in the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation region through addressing pandemic risks and cross-border 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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