Bangladesh bets big on Covid vaccines

The government has approved the first revision of the Covid-19 Emergency Response and Pandemic Preparedness Project, raising its cost by Tk 5,659.07 crore mainly for the procurement, preservation and distribution of Covid vaccines.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved the revised project at its weekly meeting on Tuesday.

Ecnec also cleared five other development projects, including three fresh ones.

The meeting was held at NEC Bhaban. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting, joining it virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban.

“Seven projects of six ministries were placed before today’s meeting. But one project was not considered for approval. The total estimated cost of the six approved projects is Tk 9,569.23 crore (only additional costs of three revised projects were counted here),” said Planning Minister MA Mannan.

He was briefing reporters after the meeting.

Of the amount, Tk 3,867.58 crore will come from the government fund, while Tk 5,701.65 crore from foreign sources, he said.

The Minister said the Ecnec sent back Kushtia Medical College Establishment Project directing his ministry to investigate the project thoroughly as to why it was not completed yet after its implementation started in 2012.

Talking about the Covid-19 project, Member of the Planning Commission Abul Kalam Azad said apart from procuring, preserving and distributing the Covid vaccines, the other major project operations include installation of modern microbiology laboratories alongside PCR machines at 27 medical college and hospitals in the country.

Besides, RT-PCR kits, antigen kits and health safety kits will also be procured under the project alongside setting up Biosafety Level-3 Labs at IEDCR and Bangladesh Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases (BITID), Chattogram.

He said 10-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and 20-bed Isolation Units would be set up at 43 district Sadar hospitals under the project.

The other major project operations include setting up 10-bed ICU units at 10 medical college and hospitals and 5-bed ICU units at infectious disease hospitals in Dhaka and Chattogram, setting up 7 medical screening units at 5 port of entries, setting up infectious disease units at 27 medical college and hospitals, setting up infection prevention and control units at 62 district hospitals, setting up medical waste management plants at 10 medical college hospitals and 10 district hospitals, installing central liquid medical oxygen system at 30 government hospitals.

According to the project factsheet provided by the Planning Commission, the project has been revised for inclusion of installation of Vaccine Testing Lab (WHO maturity level-3) through strengthening the National Control Laboratory of the Drug Administration, inclusion of recruitment of necessary manpower and trainings to check COVID-19, inclusion of US$ 100 million to be financed by Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as co-lending with the World Bank and US$ 500 million by the World Bank against the corona vaccine procurement.

Azad said the government aims to give Covid-19 vaccines to around 13.76 crore people of the country. But the people aged below 18 would not be brought under the vaccine coverage except for certain reasons.

Some TK 4,236.43 crore will be spent on procuring, transporting, distributing the vaccines while the frontline workers like health workers, law enforcers, media personnel would get the vaccines on priority basis, he said.

The Planning Minister said the government will monitor the Covid vaccine management round the clock to check irregularities in vaccine distribution.

Last year, Ecnec approved the original project with an estimated cost of only Tk 1,127.52 crore, which now went up to Tk 6,786.59 crore in the second revision.

Ecnec also approved a new project involving Tk 2,276 crore to strengthen the disaster management operations in the country.

The project titled “Procurement of equipment for conducting search, rescue operations and establishing emergency communication during earthquakes and other disasters (3rd phase)” will be implemented by October 2023, aiming to procure modern equipment to make quick response and thus conduct emergency rescue operations during and after the possible disasters.

The project will cover the entire Bangladesh, including the priority areas in Dhaka, Chattogram, Sylhet and Rangpur divisions. The equipment will be delivered to all city corporations, municipalities and upazilas across the country.

Two other fresh projects are “Sundarbans Protection Project” involving Tk 157.88 crore (to be implemented by December 2024) and “Construction of Modern Tottho (information) Complex, 1st phase, costing Tk 1,103.66 crore (to be executed by December 2023).

The two remaining revised projects are “Upgrading District Highways (1st revised) with an additional cost of Tk 122.82 crore and “Chattogram City Outer Ring Road (3rd revised)” with an additional cost of Tk 249.81 crore.

Source: United News of Bangladesh