ADB Announces $470,000 Grant to Help Tonga Combat COVID-19

News Release | 7 April 2020

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (7 April 2020) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today announced a $470,000 grant from its Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund to help finance the response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Tonga. A state of emergency was declared in Tonga on 20 March.  

“ADB’s support will help alleviate Tonga’s immediate financial, logistical, and other constraints to meet these immediate response needs and deliver appropriate medical services where required,” said ADB Health Specialist for the Pacific Inez Mikkelsen-Lopez.

The public health emergency has already impacted Tonga’s health systems in many ways. They include an increased workload on health workers to carry out surveillance and testing at ports of entries, shortages of infection prevention control supplies, and disruptions to outreach services that are essential for maintaining primary health care. Health financing in Tonga is almost entirely publicly funded, with little room for growth to accommodate increased activities during a pandemic emergency. While the Government of Tonga’s decisive measures have so far helped to keep the confirmed cases of COVID-19 to zero, the country’s main hospital has limited capacity to quarantine and isolate suspected and confirmed cases, with fewer than 100 beds for dedicated treatment and care of COVID-19 patients.

The ADB assistance is in line with Tonga’s National Action Plan for COVID-19 and complements the donations of funds and supplies by other partners. This assistance also complements the $6.5 billion aid package for Asia and the Pacific that ADB announced on 18 March in response to COVID-19. ADB is engaged in discussions with all its developing member countries, including those in the Pacific, on how best to utilize this funding. Visit ADB’s website to learn more about our ongoing response.

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.