The World Bank has approved the re-allocation of $40 million under the current $120 million Health Resilience Project to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to respond to the coronavirus crisis by equipping governmental hospitals and increasing their ability to test and treat suspected cases.
Contracts with the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) have been concluded. A fast-track procurement of critically-needed medical equipment and supplies is already underway.
“There are concerns that the outbreak will particularly hit the poor and the refugee population. The Government has prepared a Health Sector Response Plan, mobilized resources to equip additional public hospitals with critically-needed medical equipment, and strengthened risk communication to the population. Despite these efforts, the unmet needs are immense, and Lebanon is under-equipped to respond to such a global pandemic,” said a statement by the bank.
The approved funds will support the government in surveillance and case detection, case management and protection of health workers, and multi-sectoral response to support activities such as operating command rooms and community engagement campaigns.
Priority will be given to fast-track emergency procurement of required medical goods and services through collaboration with UN agencies that have prompt and streamlined access to supply chains, which are currently under considerable pressure due to high global demand. WHO and UNOPS are already in contract with MoPH.
The World Bank’s standards to procure equipment and supplies will be used. This includes the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and five PCR machines with testing kits covering six-month supply needs of public hospitals, 50 ventilators, and 12 electrocardiogram machines, as well as other supplies, to be delivered over a period of six weeks.
MoPH is procuring 70 additional ventilators from private firms following a competitive bidding process. The procurement of goods and services is carried out in accordance with the World Bank’s Procurement Regulations. Procurement activities will be published on the MoPH website, in addition to the World Bank’s website and the United Nations Development (UNDP) platform.
Technical and financial audits will be conducted to verify the contracting approach, the appropriateness of prices relative to market prices, the adherence to acceptable and agreed procurement procedures, and the appropriate use of funds for the intended purposes.