“ADB’s support will help alleviate Tonga’s immediate financial, logistical, and other constraints to meet these immediate response needs and deliver appropriate medical services where required,” said ADB Health Specialist for the Pacific Inez Mikkelsen-Lopez.
The public health emergency has already impacted Tonga’s health systems in many ways. They include an increased workload on health workers to carry out surveillance and testing at ports of entries, shortages of infection prevention control supplies, and disruptions to outreach services that are essential for maintaining primary health care.
Health financing in Tonga is almost entirely publicly funded, with little room for growth to accommodate increased activities during a pandemic emergency. While the Government of Tonga’s decisive measures have so far helped to keep the confirmed cases of COVID-19 to zero, the country’s main hospital has limited capacity to quarantine and isolate suspected and confirmed cases, with fewer than 100 beds for dedicated treatment and care of COVID-19 patients.
The ADB assistance is in line with Tonga’s National Action Plan for COVID-19 and complements the donations of funds and supplies by other partners. This assistance also complements the USD6.5 billion aid package for Asia and the Pacific that ADB announced on March 18th in response to COVID-19./.