Solidarity in the Covid-19 crisisApril 9, 2020
Rocío Medina-Bolívar, country representative for Trinidad and Tobago at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), talks to The Energy Year about how the bank is supporting countries through the Covid-19 pandemic. The IDB funds and supports the development of major infrastructure projects in Latin America and the Caribbean. It also conducts research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public- and private-sector clients.
What measures is the IDB taking to counteract the Covid-19 pandemic?
The IDB is actively engaged in co-ordinated efforts to fight the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak with member countries and other international institutions, and is prepared to help countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean cope with challenges posed by the pandemic. In addition, the IDB is studying the economic consequences of the pandemic in its member countries and is considering alternatives for providing resources to help them weather the mid- and long-term effects.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IDB has added more than USD 3 billion in new resources to its sovereign-guarantee operational programme. This brings the grand total to USD 12 billion in available resources that can be allocated to the IDB’s borrowing countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, requesting support to address public health emergencies (i.e. disease monitoring, testing and treatment) as well as responses to the economic and social impact. The IDB can also work with countries that have undisbursed project balances to redirect those resources to pandemic-response efforts and Covid-19’s implications on their economies.
Additionally, the private-sector window of the IDB Group, IDB Invest, will contribute up to USD 5 billion and is currently evaluating a series of mechanisms to support impacted businesses and financial institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean. IDB Invest is also working on a new USD 500-million Crisis Mitigation Facility targeting investments that provide a direct response to the pandemic through health and health-related sectors and access to short-term lending for small and medium-sized enterprises through financial institutions and supply chain finance.
What is your message to the people of Trinidad and Tobago during this pandemic?
The IDB Group stands in solidarity with the government and people of Trinidad and Tobago during this critical time, as a committed development partner. In collaboration with the technical leadership of the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the IDB will continue to co-ordinate with its member countries and other multilateral institutions to ensure a proper response to the pandemic.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the IDB is working closely with its public-sector counterparts to programme and fast-track approval of the necessary resources to address Covid-19 and its economic and social implications. For instance, with close co-ordination with the Ministry of Health and Regional Health Authorities, the IDB is already supporting the procurement of urgent items such as equipment, supplies and key hospital personnel.
Are you seeing examples of companies rising to the challenge of beating the virus?
In the case of IDB Lab, our innovation lab for the IDB Group, it launched a challenge for health technology solutions that could be rapidly prototyped. Of the 500 solutions submitted to the challenge, one from Trinidad and Tobago was approved for prototype funding via a very competitive process where 11 were selected for financing.
The company is a start-up called MEDL that will launch an integrated prescription fulfilment system designed to dispense prescribed drugs from an online prescription, entered by a doctor, to the patient’s door and it provides support to patients to improve medication compliance by managing refills.