NEW DELHI: The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved a loan of USD 500 million to support India's efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Beijing-headquartered multilateral lending agency said on Friday.
AIIB's COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility, created as part of the coordinated international response to counter the COVID-19 pandemic, has an initial size of USD 5 to USD 10 billion to support its members' urgent economic, financial and public health pressures and quick recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
"The AIIB Board of Directors has approved a loan of USD 500 million to support India's efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 by strengthening the preparedness of the country's national health system," it said.
The project is funded by AIIB's COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility created to adapt to urgent financing needs of the Bank's members impacted by the pandemic, it said.
The India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project, cofinanced with the World Bank, will support India in addressing significant challenges posed to the public health system, AIIB said.
"The financing will enable the Government of India to scale up efforts to limit the transmission of cases, strengthen the health system to expand its response capacity and enhance preparedness to manage future outbreaks," it said.
The project also supports the purchase of medical equipment, enhanced disease detection capabilities and research.
It is expected to address the needs of infected people, at-risk populations, medical and emergency personnel and service providers at medical and testing facilities as well as national and animal health agencies.
"Building a resilient health system that can effectively treat COVID-19 patients and prevent its spread is the immediate priority.
This funding will address this need and strengthen India's capacity to effectively manage future disease outbreaks," said AIIB Vice President, Investment Operations D J Pandian.
Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary in India's finance ministry said AIIB's assistance will help the government in strengthening pandemic research and community engagement and risk communication, among others.
AIIB is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia. It began operations in January 2016 and now has 102 approved members worldwide.