The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved $30 million in loan and grant to help strengthen Cambodia’s healthcare system amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a press statement on October 8, ADB said the $30 million include a $25 million loan as additional financing for the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Health Security Project, which will boost laboratory services and disease control and prevention at 81 provincial and district referral hospitals across the country.

This project will improve disease surveillance and response systems, Covid-19 outbreak management, and contact tracing at central, provincial and district health agencies.

The remaining $5 million is a grant from the Japanese government's Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to improve emergency care at 14 provincial hospitals. This funding is for new equipment such as ambulances, oxygen concentrators and oxygen therapy devices, as well as health staff training in Covid-19 clinical care, the statement said.

ADB senior social sector specialist Rikard Elfving said the pandemic is putting a tremendous stress on the Cambodian economy and threatens to reverse gains in poverty reduction and human development.

“The project will strengthen the public health system in preventing, detecting, and responding to Covid-19 and other emerging public health threats, mitigating health and social impacts and indirectly contributing to poverty reduction,” he said.

The press statement said the project will address social issues stemming from the pandemic, including training hospital staff to identify and support people affected by gender-based violence and mental health issues.

“ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members – 49 from the region,” it said.