Official Launch of the Philippine Loan Agreements for Vaccine Procurement (HEAL 2) - Ahmed Saeed

Speech | 29 March 2021

Remarks by Ahmed M. Saeed, ADB Vice-President, Operations 2, at the loan signing of the Philippines' Second Health System Enhancement to Address and Limit COVID-19 under the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (HEAL 2), 29 March 2021

Good afternoon Secretary Carlos Dominguez, 

Dr. D.J Pandian, Vice President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Dr. Victoria Kwakwa, Vice President of the World Bank (WB), colleagues from the Departments of Finance and Health and other distinguished guests.

It is an honor to join you for the signing of three loan agreements for COVID-19 vaccine procurement approved by our respective Boards of Directors, and together totaling $1.2 billion. 

Secretary Dominguez, you have long been the leading voice amongst MDB Governors calling for improved coordination amongst development partners.  Thank you for your strong leadership in bringing our three institutions together to support the Philippines’ vaccine deployment plan. On behalf of all of my colleagues at ADB I would also like to thank your team - led by Undersecretary Mark Joven and Assistant Secretary Didith Tan from DOF as well as Usec Mario Villaverde from DOH - for the focus and commitment they have brought to their work with us. Today’s event is an excellent example of development partner coordination.

I also want to extend my appreciation to our colleagues at the AIIB and the World Bank for their partnership and I would be remiss if I did not also express admiration and pride for the hard work of my colleagues at ADB.

As I noted earlier, our cofinancing agreement with the AIIB has leveraged a total of $700 million and, along with the WB’s loan of $500 million, a total of $1.2 billion in financing is now available to help the Philippines secure vaccines for over 70 million Filipinos this calendar year.

While the money will help there should be no misunderstanding: we are in a race against time to inoculate as many Filipinos as possible. The Government’s vaccine rollout has gone well in recent weeks, but we must contend with an unexpected surge and the return to Enhanced Community Quarantine in the National Capital Region until April 4.

COVID 19 remains a potent and formidable foe, and I want to highlight two emerging challenges in particular.

First, the world simply does not have enough vaccines and, on top of that, wealthy nations are building stockpiles through precommitment of most of the production that will become available over the next 6 months. This has made it difficult for developing countries to secure vaccines and is leading to slow vaccine rollouts.  Our three institutions will need to work with our developing member countries and vaccine suppliers to ensure equitable and timely access to vaccine supplies.

Second, lessons learned from the initial phases of vaccine deployment need to be reflected in strategies that will be used once larger volumes of vaccines are available in the next few months. ADB stands ready to support the Philippines in learning and implementing these lessons and has made $2 million available to support these and other related efforts.

Secretary Dominguez, we stand with you as the Philippines fights to get through this historic crisis. As you know, in 2020 ADB provided $4.2 billion of assistance to the Philippines, of which $1.8 billion was COVID-19 support to the Government’s fiscal response, emergency grants to 4Ps families, scaling up the health response, and food relief to 162,000 vulnerable families in Metro Manila.

In 2021, our lending program approximates $3.5 billion, of which 60% will be infrastructure investments to support the economic recovery with a strong element of Green Recovery through our South Commuter Railway Project, Davao Bus Modernization Project, and our Sustainable Tourism Development Project in Palawan. Other lending programs will support youth employment, universal healthcare, and local governance.

Let me close by congratulating the Departments of Finance and Health for the successful conclusion of the three vaccine loan agreements. Thank you.