World Bank approved a $500 million loan program to boost Pakistan’s emergency response amid the coronavirus pandemic and protect human capital investments in the country.
The program would help the country improve access to quality healthcare and education, support economic opportunities for women, and strengthen social safety nets as it braces to limit the impact of COVID-19.
The World Bank stated, “The initiative will support greater coordination between provincial and the federal governments to immunise millions of children and reduce their risks of contracting polio and other diseases.”
World Bank Country Director for Pakistan Illango Patchamuthu said, “The global COVID-19 pandemic is impacting day-to-day life in the country not solely from economic disruptions but also an additional stress on public services that jeopardise human capital accumulation.”
“This programme underscores the criticality of universal healthcare and social protection services that are durable to exogenous shocks such as Pakistan is facing now.”
According to the World Bank, the SHIFT supports three policy reforms aimed at building Pakistan’s workforce and improving social safety-net programmes.
The reforms are meant to increase the quality of essential services, especially primary health care and equitable access to basic education, and civil registration and vital statistics; recognise women’s economic contributions and support participation in the labour force through appropriate working conditions, and improve efficiencies in safety nets for COVID-19 response, and strengthen the effectiveness national and federal safety net programs in the short to medium term.