Supporting the Philippines’ COVID-19 Emergency Response – Philippines

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Philippines, the World Bank supported the country’s efforts to scale up immunization, strengthen its health system, and counter the impact of the pandemic, especially on the poor and most vulnerable. In addition to supporting the procurement and deployment of 33 million doses of vaccines, the project financed the procurement of emergency medical/laboratory equipment and supplies, ambulances and civil works, including the construction of negative pressure rooms for frontline health facilities.


For Vilma CamposA Quezon City resident and mother of five, life has improved since her family received their shots. “My daughter has returned to work, my husband too”, she says. “Life isn’t so hard anymore.”

Before COVID-19 hit, Vilma’s job was to take care of children. When authorities began to put in place quarantine restrictions, she, her daughter and her husband lost their jobs. Vilma said her family always wondered where to find the next meal. “What gave us hope was the arrival of vaccines,” she said.* “Things have gotten better and I really wish we could all get through this pandemic.”*


The Philippines has been one of the hardest hit countries by COVID-19 in the East Asia and Pacific region. To manage the spread of the virus, the authorities have put in place strict quarantine restrictions and health protocols, restricted the mobility of people as well as the operational capacity of businesses. As a result, the Philippine economy suffered. In 2020, GDP contracted by 9.5%, driven by a significant decline in consumption and investment growth, and exacerbated by the sharp slowdown in exports, tourism and remittances . Many Filipinos lost their jobs and experienced food shortages and difficulty accessing health care. Due to global shortages, the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing machines and test kits testing proved difficult in the early stages of the pandemic.


The project has supported the country’s efforts to extend vaccination throughout the national territory, strengthen the country’s health system and overcome the impact of the pandemic, especially on the poor and most vulnerable. Besides vaccines, the project supported the purchase of PPE, essential medical equipment such as mechanical ventilators, heart monitors, portable x-ray machines; laboratory equipment and test kits; and ambulances. The project also supported the construction and renovation of negative pressure isolation rooms and quarantine facilities, as well as the expansion of the country’s laboratory capacity at national and subnational levels for prevention and preparedness against emerging infectious diseases. It financed the modernization of the national reference laboratory – the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) – as well as six sub-national and public health laboratories in Baguio, Cebu, Davao and Manila, as well as the construction and l expansion of laboratory capacity. in priority regions without such facilities.


During Year 1 to Year 2, the following results were achieved:

  • The project supported the procurement and deployment of 33 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine across the country. The project supported the pediatric vaccination of 7.5 million children. With the support of development partners, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, the Philippines has administered over 137 million vaccines (over 126 million first and second doses and more than 10 million booster doses) in March. of 2022.

  • The project increased testing capacity from 1,000 RT-PCR tests per day to 24,979 per day.

  • The project supported the purchase of 500 mechanical ventilators, 119 portable x-ray machines, 70 infusion pumps, 50 RT-PCR machines and 68 ambulances.

  • Thanks to high vaccination rates and increased health response capacity, the Philippines is now much better able to manage the pandemic.

33 million vaccines

The Philippines COVID-19 Emergency Response Project supported the procurement and deployment of 33 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine across the country. The project also supported the pediatric vaccination of 7.5 million Filipino children.

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank, through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), provided total financing of $900 million for the emergency response project. The project provided $100 million for medical and laboratory equipment and supplies; $500 million for primary vaccine doses, accessories and end-to-end logistics; and $300 million for boosters and supplemental doses, and end-to-end logistics.

The partners

The World Bank has collaborated with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) for project preparation and vaccine financing. The Bank worked with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on the Vaccine Introduction (VIRAT) and Vaccine Readiness Assessment Tool (VRAF). 2.0, which is used to assess status, gaps and issues in four areas: Planning and Management, Supply and Distribution, Program Delivery, and Supporting Systems and Infrastructure. Australia, through the AGaP Trust Fund, provided a grant of US$300,000 to support implementation. The World Bank has also worked with UNICEF to address vaccine hesitancy and with WHO to procure RT-PCR machines and test kits.

Look forward

The Philippine government is considering additional support to increase testing capacity. The equipment has been procured and the civil works commissioned under the project are now in use. An action plan is being developed for the continued implementation of environmental and social safeguards used in the project, such as COVID-19 waste management and assessment of vulnerable groups’ accessibility to sanitation services. Health care. These will be institutionalized through the manuals developed and through issuance of guidelines by the Ministry of Health. The project also supports the development of a national action plan for better accessibility of health care facilities for vulnerable groups. The World Bank is also supporting the Ministry of Health and priority LGUs in strengthening local health systems for universal health coverage.

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