SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The World Bank approved $36.2 million in financing for Bosnia on Friday to help the Balkan country prevent, detect and respond to the COVID–19 pandemic.
The financing covers a range of interventions to strengthen public health services and safeguard lives and livelihoods overall, the bank said in a statement.
There have been more than 1,400 confirmed coronavirus cases and 54 deaths in Bosnia. Like elsewhere, stay-at-home orders to halt the spread of the disease have hit businesses and jobs.
“While the situation is still unfolding, we have managed so far to prepare this initial package to help the country prevent, detect, and respond to the pandemic and provide social assistance to most vulnerable groups,” Emanuel Salinas, World Bank Country Manager for Bosnia and Montenegro said.
With the World Bank aid, the Bosnian authorities will be able to increase isolation capacities in hospitals, obtain new intensive care beds with ventilators, establish new designated laboratories for testing and procure other medical equipment and material.
Furthermore, some 48,000 people that are most affected by the pandemic crisis will receive social assistance benefits, the bank said.
In parallel, it said it was working to adjust the existing operations and financing, especially in the health sector, in order to help the authorities respond to the pandemic-related issues, including advisory service on the likely economic impacts of the crisis.
Even before the pandemic, Bosnia’s health system was in poor shape. Large numbers of doctors and nurses have sought work in Western Europe, causing fears that the country may soon have too few medical staff to cope.
Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Toby Chopra