BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The European Investment Bank (EIB) is providing Euro 50 million (One Euro=US 1.29 cents) in long-term financing to the Barbados government to support the country’s coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response and support new healthcare investments.
It said that the financing would strengthen the national emergency response, as well as supporting pandemic preparedness and other interventions included in the national response plan.
The financing complements the European Union’s support for fair and equitable vaccine access through Gavi, the Global Vaccine Alliance in the Caribbean, which includes eight million Euros to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Authority (CARPHA) and helps ensure access to vaccines.
The EIB loan will support the costs of strengthening Barbados’ public health system including, treatment capacity for COVID-19 patients, lab capacity and equipment, quarantine facilities.
The EIB said the financing helps relieve the financial burden of increased healthcare expenditure during a time of economic hardship.
“It was important to the COVID strategy that we were able to mount an early, health care response to the pandemic, in particular, to identify, build and retrofit dedicated isolation and quarantine facilities. “This was so that we could, as far as possible, protect the country’s main hospital and clinic facilities from extensive COVID spread and from having to manage Covid-related care along with other health care responsibilities,” said the Minister in Economic Affairs and Investment, here, Marsha Caddle.
“This low-cost financing allows us to retroactively finance the building of Harrison’s Point and other COVID expenditure and undertake new spending related to the pandemic. But it also allows us to ensure that we can still provide essential health care services, such as improved care through an expanded Accident and Emergency department and continued attention to cancer care and chronic, non-communicable diseases.
“EIB has shown tremendous leadership and innovation in providing low-interest, concessional terms for crisis financing so that countries like Barbados do not have to explore our debt beyond sustainable levels to help our people survive,” said Caddle.
EIB Vice President Ricardo Mourinho Felix said that the partnership with the Barbados government would help protect vulnerable groups against the impact of the pandemic.
“As part of Team Europe, the EIB is currently working to increase its financing to strengthen health and economic resilience to the pandemic around the world. This financing is part of the EIB’s global response to the pandemic, including over five billion Euros for urgent health investments, accelerating long-standing support for private sector investment in more than 100 countries around the world.”
Head of European Union Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, said the financing of the EIB complements the grants that the EU has provided the region in response to the pandemic.
“Barbados will soon receive Euro 3.5 million in social protection funding due to the challenging economic situation the country faces, and we have provided eight million Euros to the Caribbean Public Health Authority.
“This funding has contributed to ensuring that all Caribbean states can access large quantities of affordable vaccines through the COVAX Facility, managed by Gavi, the global Vaccine Alliance.”
Team Europe and the COVID-19 pandemic response,” the diplomat added.
The financing falls under the global “Team Europe” response to the pandemic. Confronted with this global crisis and in line with its responsibilities as a global player, the EU launched its “Team Europe” initiative on 8 April last year.
The budget mobilized so far, which equals Euro 40.5 billion, combines resources from the EU, member states, and financial institutions, including the European Investment Bank.
In addition, EU leaders recently pledged to donate at least 100 million doses of vaccine doses before the end of 2021.