Protecting the Poor in Pakistan Amid COVID-19

Video | 20 May 2020

The Asian Development Bank has approved a $300 million emergency assistance loan to strengthen Pakistan’s public health response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and help meet the basic needs of vulnerable and poor segments of society.

The project will help procure medical supplies and personal protective equipment for hospitals and their frontline health workers, upgrade medical facilities, and train health workers, among others.

It will also help provide cash assistance to directly benefit the women of poor households through the government’s Ehsaas Emergency Cash Assistance Package, launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Transcript

COVID-19 wreaks havoc not just on health but on the livelihoods of many.

This is why ADB is helping Pakistan protect those most vulnerable in the pandemic.

ADB’s $300 million emergency assistance loan will support cash transfers through the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Assistance Package  to help poor families get through the crisis.

“These individuals for the past two and a half months have been very badly affected. Their livelihoods have been lost, they’re unable to earn. The government was very keen to assist them on a fast-track basis. And we had to fall back on the institutional mechanisms that had been created for Ehsaas over the last one year, in particular the digital payment system,” said Dr. Sania Nishtar, Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety of the Government of Pakistan. “ADB has been a very valuable partner and we look forward to this important collaboration in Ehsaas emergency cash and even beyond that.”

The loan will also help boost Pakistan’s public health system by upgrading facilities, providing equipment, and training health workers.

“The advantage is we can move very fast, we can hit the ground running. That’s the kind of expediency that this particular response demanded. So we had to find the right institutions and institutional mechanisms through which we could deliver very fast,” said Mian S. Shafi, ADB Pakistan Senior Project Officer.

ADB earlier provided funding to strengthen hospitals and procure medical supplies.

These are all part of ADB’s commitment to help Pakistan weather the COVID-19 storm and protect its people.