ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast –  The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) have approved a grant of $480,000 to Libya under the Special Relief Fund (SRF) for the procurement of much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) intended for treatment of cases of infection of the novel Coronavirus.

The Bank’s funding will contribute to supporting the country’s national Response Plan for COVID-19. The assistance is intended to focus on infection prevention and control and to shield communities, particularly  those most vulnerable including the health workers.

The $480,000 grant, is considered the first granted to the North African nation under the SRF since 2014. It was approved following a request from the Libyan government. The operation is a result of close coordination with the Finance and Health ministries.

Bank support will focus on the supply of PPE intended for use in ICUs and during treatment of cases of infection, easing the concerns of the medical staff, while enabling authorities to strengthen their readiness plan for an expected surge in cases. The PPE equipment to be procured will be distributed to hospitals across the country designated for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The intervention will complement the ongoing humanitarian activities of UN agencies and international organizations to mitigate the negative effects of the virus pandemic on the population living in Libya. Accordingly, the Bank support will be implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO) operating in Libya.

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North Africa is leading in the number of COVID infections in Africa (around 45,000 confirmed cases) and deaths (around 1,500) since the virus arrived on the continent in March, and while the reported number of infections in Libya is still manageable – 156 confirmed cases and five deaths as of June 1, 2020 –  the health service in the country suffers from severe shortages of staff, medicines, supplies and equipment.

The COVID-19 pandemic occurs at a time when the Libyan economy is dramatically affected by a sharp drop in oil production in addition to the global drop in oil prices. The country is also facing social and political disruptions, which threaten the entire population.

The Bank’s support intends to ensure that amidst the prevailing circumstances, needed relief and assistance are provided to the Libyan people, with a particular focus on the prevention of infection of doctors, nurses and health workers who are at the forefront of the pandemic and are critical for the success of pandemic prevention and control efforts.