PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (23 November 2016) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $117 million loan to the Governments of Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar and Viet Nam to enhance responses to emerging infectious diseases and the management of other major public health threats. The Lao PDR government is also receiving $8 million in grant assistance.
“Countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), particularly Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam, have grown significantly over the last few years, but their health systems remain underdeveloped to effectively address disease outbreaks,” said Gerard Servais, Senior Health Specialist at ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “The project will help address weaknesses in these countries’ health systems and promote cross-country cooperation to improve national and international health security.”
These four countries are highly vulnerable to outbreaks of emerging diseases including SARS, bird flu, corona virus, malaria, and dengue due to weak health systems and increased mobility of people and trade across borders. While health service networks within these countries have expanded, access to these services for marginalized, mobile, and poor people remains a challenge.
The project will strengthen public health security mechanisms including surveillance and outbreak response, laboratory quality and biosafety, and health services access. A $21 million loan to Cambodia, for example, will support the Ministry of Health’s efforts to further digitize its disease surveillance system and strengthen outbreak rapid response teams in remote areas. The loan will also equip laboratories and improve infection prevention and control at district hospitals along borders and economic corridors.
The GMS Health Security Project will impact households and communities in 13 provinces in Cambodia, 12 provinces in Lao PDR, 5 states and regions in Myanmar, and 36 provinces in Viet Nam. The project’s total cost is $132.2 million, with the four countries contributing a total of $7.2 million. Estimated project completion date is the first quarter of 2022.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.