Honduras and El Salvador have borrowed US$20 million each from the World Bank to help finance the purchase of medical equipment vital to combat the rapidly-spreading coronavirus.
The fund can also be used to train healthcare workers and develop testing kits, the international lender stated in a press release. The loan is part of the bank’s US$14 billion fast-track package designed to strengthen developing countries’ responses to the pandemic.
“We continue to collaborate with the governments of El Salvador, Honduras, and the countries of Central America with rapid actions to provide additional support to strengthen their health systems and address this emergency,” said Seynabou Sakho, World Bank Director for Central America.
With 225 cases, El Salvador is the least affected country in Central America. Still, in Honduras, nearly 500 people have been infected with the virus, with around 50 of the dying of the disease.
To mitigate the crisis, El Salvador has launched the ‘COVID-19 Emergency Response Project’, under which it will purchase ventilators, respirators, and beds for intensive care units at its hospitals.
Honduras will buy protective gear for health personnel and arm its labs with advanced medical equipment. The Central American country is reportedly in dire need of medical equipment. “There are only 12 government-owned respirators for the whole country,” says community publication Wbur.org.
Honduras is already reeling from many tropical diseases. Last year, it reported more than 100,000 cases of dengue.